The impact of technology on veterinary work

The last time that I was on a train, the other three people at the table were reading books on Kindles, tablets or iPads and it set me pondering how technology had changed the book publishing industry. 

Instant online access to book reviews, references and recommendations is simple. You can open the book, read some before you buy, download a chapter and if you like it a few seconds later you have downloaded the whole book, and such good value for money.  

The way books are bought and read has changed and there have been massive changes to publishing in the last five years with the collapse of the net book agreement and sales of books through supermarkets and other outlets with heavy discounting, particularly of leading titles and best sellers. All of this may sound familiar to the veterinary profession, with high profile marketing, discounted service, low cost practices and competition on price not service. 

Perhaps the old adage that you can judge a book by its cover no longer applies? Are your surgical skills judged by the quality of your stitching or the number of stitches?  Laparoscopic surgery leaves tiny wounds with few stitches so there is a risk of this being judged as less skilled despite the highly technological nature of this work.

Shopping on the internet is easy and convenient and practices who can plot web traffic have spotted a large number of orders placed outside normal working hours and into the evening.  This is obviously when it suits the client to do so.   Traditionally people voted with their feet and now they can vote with the click of a mouse button.  The PC was the route to the internet but now ordering with smart phones and via apps has grown hugely.

Price comparison is easy for products but much harder for service. The general public may see a bitch spay as a fixed price product and be unaware of the different levels of service that can be included as part of this surgical procedure.  The customer has choices and will make their own decisions.

Using more than one vet, or pick and mix as you feel like, is part of the current customer choice in the marketplace and should not surprise us.  It applies to veterinary practices and other areas.  Plenty of people already make separate choices of where they buy their fuel and where they service their car, or where they buy reading glasses and where they go for prescription glasses.

There are new business models emerging in the profession which can operate at much lower margins than traditional businesses and a similar headline service be provided at a much lower cost. 

Embracing technology to improve the customer experience will help make your service more customer-focussed and should reap benefits. Kindles, tablets, iPads for reading books are not for everyone but they are for many.  Can technology help you make your service better, easier or more convenient for the customer?  If so, then use it.


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