By Christine Kjeell, Program Manager for VIC

Being the Hospital Director for two very busy specialty practices, I am always on the hunt for tools that allow us to provide better patient and client care.  This led me to the Startup Circle at VMX this year.  This was the first time I had ever wandered through a Startup Circle, and it was bustling with an energy that was palpable.  Founders were there to showcase their products and their passion for what they do was evident.  You couldn’t help but get excited about the future of veterinary medicine when chatting with them.  Wandering through I saw several items that peaked my interest, Zipwhip, a landline texting tool was one of them.  We have been struggling with instituting standard texting at our hospitals due to several issues:

  1. Loss of control of images and content sent to clients.
  2. Cost-Phones are expensive.
  3. Breakage and loss-Phones are expensive, and for all of you out there that have worked in a veterinary hospital, you understand my concerns about losing or breaking the phone.  If there was an Olympic event for breaking and losing equipment, veterinary professionals would get the gold.

Zipwhip seemed like the perfect tool for us as it addressed all these issues.  Before I go any further I want to make sure to state that Zipwhip is not a sponsor, rather just a new, innovative tool that I love.  It functions through our desktops, on our current landline so loss and breakage are not an issue.  Users are assigned so everyone is accountable for what is sent via text, and it is very affordable.  Based on just this information I would have signed up.  What I want to share with you are all the true benefits we saw and how we ended up utilizing the tool.

Initially, it was a struggle to get my doctors on board.  They were certain that clients did not want to be texted.  They felt that this would tie up more of their time then communicating the traditional way.  Despite their reservations we continued with the installation of Zipwhip.  Sometimes it is best not to fight, rather just let the results speak for themselves. 

The Results

Clients love being able to text us and get texted back!  We started utilizing it for call backs and the results were amazing.  Historically, for call backs, we would call and leave a voicemail inquiring about the progress of the patient.  If there were no issues we would generally not hear back.  With Zipwhip clients would text us back telling us how great their pet was doing and even sharing pictures with us, which was a great boost to the staff’s morale.  Our client call back contact numbers went up by approximately 60%.  Clients would also send us pictures of an incision or swelling they were not sure about.  Based off this we were able to advise them if they needed to be seen or not.  All of this increases patient care immensely! 

Next, we added a new treatment titled “Zipwhip” to all our in patients’ treatment sheets.  At this set time, our assistants would go around and take pictures of the patients then send their parents a quick update along with the picture.  We found that this would eliminate client calls that would interrupt the flow of our floor and allowed us more time to focus on patient care.  Clients felt more connected to us and patients got to go home sooner.  A particular case comes to mind.  We had a brachiocephalic patient that would get so excited when its family would visit that it would end up in oxygen.  We were able to break this cycle by sending the clients frequent pictures of the cute little guy.  They stopped visiting, the pet’s throat began healing, and he got to go home!  The clients were thrilled.  They felt connected to us and their pet through the whole process. 

Zipwhip also saved time and allowed us to focus more on patient and client care in other ways.  With two locations we are always calling between the locations.  We started using Zipwhip for these communications which cut down on the CSR’s call load.  Their call load was further reduced by approximately 20% with clients texting them questions rather than calling.  Additionally, the texts could be copied and pasted into our PIMS system, cutting down on the amount of time spent typing up client communications.  At night the ER doctors texted the clients with updates, letting them know they would talk again in the morning.  This reduced client check in calls by 80%, and the clients felt confident with our lines of communication.  This saved the ER doctors a lot of time as the text communications are much more brief and concise.

Zipwhip is only one of the innovative changes that we have going on in our practice right now.  Every time we install a new piece of technology there will be hiccups and bottlenecks.  Just remember that not everyone is as innovative as you and sometimes you have to take baby steps to introduce news methods and technologies.  Don’t be disheartened!  Change can be good if it is managed well and the changes are based on what your clients want and not what you think they want.

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