Park West Veterinary Associates is an independent small animal general practice that has been serving the community of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina since 2003. They operate 2 businesses co-located in one building: a wellness, therapy and surgery center, and a boarding and day care facility. The practice employs 45 caretakers, including 7 veterinarians.
Marian Rowland is the Practice Manager and has worked for Park West Vet since 2008. As the manager of the leadership team, it is her job to ensure that cats, dogs and their families receive an enjoyable and stress-free experience, while keeping front and back-office operations running efficiently. She takes pride in Park West Vet’s history of being a progressive practice, from earning certification as a fear-free facility, to the adoption of radio headsets, cloud-based software and integrated payments.
Pre-Pandemic Payment Processes
After 14 years, Park West Vet outgrew their legacy practice management system and stand-alone payment terminals. In 2018, Marian and the leadership team made the decision to upgrade to ezyVet, a cloud-based platform, and chose PayJunction’s integrated payment solution to further drive efficiencies. The integration allows payments to be initiated from ezyVet’s Veterinary Practice Management System and for all transaction information to flow into patient records and accounting systems, saving time and eliminating keying errors. The solutions were brought on simultaneously.
It was very appealing for us to have our practice management system and payments connected in the cloud.
The decision was a no-brainer.
The practice has 15 customer-facing payment terminals, one in each exam room as well as the lobbies. This allows customers to pay in the privacy of the exam room and depart through a separate exit— eliminating the need to bring nervous patients back through the lobby—a practice that adheres to being a certified fear-free facility.
Park West Vet operates as two different businesses with unique federal tax IDs: the hospital and the boarding facility. As a result the office manager must batch out payments separately at the end of the day. However, the businesses run under one combined account in ezyVet’s software, which allows the teams to access client records and payment history within one portal.
Marian cited that the ability to securely store customers’ payment card information was a significant driver of efficiency and a real “game changer” for the practice. It allows them to pull a customer record in ezyVet and automatically charge the card on file. They can even email phone-order customers an invoice with a payment link for remote signature approval.
Powering Through the Pandemic
Park West Vet’s decision to implement a cloud-based system with integrated payments seems prescient, as became evident in March 2020 when the COVID-19 health crisis hit the United States. The hospital practice saw a huge increase in business, with people stocking up on food and medicines and rushing to get in their vet visits, fearing a forced shut down.
As shelter-in-place orders were issued, veterinary services were classified as Essential Businesses and Park West Vet could remain open. Ironically, hospital visits continued to increase because people were spending so much time with their furry friends. They either noticed physical or mental problems with their pets, or they finally had enough time to schedule surgeries that require a long recovery period.
The smart, visionary decisions made by Marian and team prepared Park West Vet to quickly pivot from current processes and better serve the needs of their community while following best practices and social distancing guidelines published by the CDC, NIH and state and local governments. The layout of Park West Vet’s new fear-free facility reduced interactions even before “social distancing”’ became part of our daily language.
People became nervous about contracting the virus via handling cash or touching surfaces, so Park West Vet immediately implemented healthy payment practices to reduce the spread of germs at checkout, including: encouraging contactless payments, disabling signatures and receipts, and sanitizing payment terminals after each use. When clients call in to order food and medicine, the office staff processes the payment using the card on file. Park West Vet also saw an increase in online prescription orders through VetSource, their integrated pharmacy solution.
The transition to curbside drop-off and pick-up was easier for Park West Vet than for many other practices thanks to cloud-based software, credit cards on file, and remote headsets. ezyVet software is accessed from any browser-connected device so curbside greeters are armed with iPads and headsets. They pull up the client’s records and radio instructions to inside staff members to pick up, return a pet, or bring out a food/medicine order.
“The best thing about ezyVet during this whole crisis is that it is cloud-based, so we can walk away from the building with access to the entire system at our fingertips,” said Marian. “And for payments we just pick the card on file and check the customer out right there in the parking lot. Many of our clients are impressed with how easy the process is.”
Park West Vet’s clients love the convenience of curbside servicing. Marian predicts that once the COVID crisis ends, about 50% of their clientele will continue to opt for curbside assistance.
Park West Vet installed cameras in two exam rooms and the veterinarians use Zoom to host telehealth visits. The appointments are color-coded in the ezyVet calendar, which allows vets to easily identify video examinations. Because curbside has been so successful, the practice has only conducted about a dozen Zoom visits since March. Clients pre-pay using the card on file and an email is sent to the customer for approval and remote signature capture. The payment is applied to the invoice on the day of the appointment. This streamlines the customer experience by eliminating the need for the office manager to reach back out to the client following the appointment.
No matter what happens next in regards to COVID, Park West Vet is prepared to do business in any capacity due to the flexible operational structure Marian has implemented with the cloud-based systems.
Collaborating in a Crisis
Park West Vet welcomed advice on how to make adjustments to their operations while adhering to essential business guidelines. Charleston-area animal hospitals came together to share information and best practices. Marian told her peers how the combination of cloud software, integrated payments and card on file processing allowed the team to minimize mistakes, frustration and downtime so they could concentrate on the needs of their patients. PayJunction and ezyVet worked together to educate veterinary clinics, sharing information about features and enhancements via briefings, webinars and other resources.
“PayJunction improved our overall business operations before, during and after the crisis hit. We make fewer mistakes because of integration. It’s also a faster experience for the clients, especially repeat frequent clients.” The Park West Vet team has been very satisfied with the support from PayJunction in helping navigate through the pandemic, with the Support Team earning a score of 9 out of 10 from Marian.
PayJunction and ezyVet continue to collaborate through the crisis and are working on further enhancements, integrations and innovations to bring more efficiencies to vet practices and improve the customer experience for now and the future.
Has your practice implemented any of the protocols Park West Vet is using? Tell us your experiences (or hardships) navigating the operational changes needed due to COVID in the comments below.