How to Open an Urgent Care For Animals

urgent animal care

An urgent care for animals provides veterinary services for animals that are in need of quick medical attention or cannot go to a standard veterinarian’s office due to their operating hours. There is a growing need for this service due to increased pet ownership across the country and the limitations of traditional veterinary practice hours.

Veterinary urgent care verticals present an opportunity to increase revenue for existing practices and provide additional value to pet owners, such as the ability for quick treatment for minor concerns or non-life-threatening conditions with their pets.

Adding an Urgent Animal Care Vertical

The first step in adding an urgent care vertical to your existing veterinary practice is identifying and understanding the specific needs and expectations of the local pet owners and community around you. Be sure to evaluate the local veterinary landscape, including competitor practices and their hours, so you can determine if there’s a need for this type of service in your area. 

When it comes to staffing, it’s important to hire experienced veterinarians and staff who are comfortable with emergency care situations and able to work more flexible hours than typical veterinary practices. For animal urgent care verticals specifically, staff will need additional training, especially in terms of providing emergency and urgent care services.

Depending on the physical state of your current practice, you may need to explore the need for adjusting existing facilities or procuring new space to accommodate urgent care. There are a few additional spaces to consider, which include appropriate kenneling areas, treatment rooms, and surgical suites. There may also be a need for additional or specialized medical equipment that you need when providing these services.

Finally, it’s crucial to understand and meet all local and national regulatory requirements for operating an urgent care for animals. Keep in mind the appropriate insurances and other legal considerations you may need to consider based on your jurisdiction’s laws and regulations. 

Another idea could also include reaching out to other veterinarians that have successfully opened animal urgent cares outside of your local market. These individuals would not be competitors to your practice and may be willing to share some of their own experiences and advice, since they will not feel like they will have to compete against you for local pet owners. 

Engaging with Pet Owners in an Animal Urgent Care Setting

The proper technology and pet owner engagement software are of the utmost importance in modern veterinary practices, especially when adding an urgent care vertical. Here are some digital tools that you should consider implementing in your practice when adding this vertical: 

Online Check-in

An online check-in service offers convenience to pet owners by allowing them to hold their spot in line online ahead of their visit so they can wait remotely. This tool also optimizes the clinic’s operational efficiency by allowing staff to offer up or block off time slots that can redirect patient volume to less busy times and days or even less busy locations. It also opens up communication between the urgent care and the client via email and texts so the urgent care can keep their clients informed about wait times and other details regarding their visit.

Virtual Waiting

Virtual waiting allows clients and their pets to avoid sitting in the waiting room and instead wait remotely until the office is ready to see them. This practice minimizes physical crowding in the waiting room and eases stress for both pet owners and pets. It can be used in conjunction with an online check-in tool to add all walk-in visits to the same virtual queue as online check-ins. 

SMS and Two-Way Texting

Utilizing SMS and two-way texting with your clients can enhance the flow of communication between pet owners and your practice’s staff. This technology is useful when providing owners with timely updates about their pet’s condition, alleviating their worries and keeping them informed throughout the oftentimes stressful process.

Digital Intake Forms

Digital intake forms allow owners to complete any necessary paperwork before they arrive at your office. These are a great tool for streamlining the registration process, reducing paperwork, and helping the urgent care team focus more on patient care instead of having to manually handle paperwork when patients arrive. 

Intake forms are often the main reason that you may spend time in the waiting room. Completing this paperwork digitally can prove an invaluable tool, especially for people with pets who are restless, energetic, or do not get along well with other animals. Instead, the pet owner can complete these tasks from a more comfortable place, such as at home or in their car. 

Custom Screening Questions

Custom screening questions can be used in triaging and deciding how your staff should be prioritizing cases. They help your practice quickly and accurately collect vital information from patients that will help determine which pets should be seen in which order. 

Drop-off/Pickup Messaging

Certain software can facilitate seamless drop-off and pickup processes by utilizing SMS messaging. This helps ensure less contact and smoother operations throughout the process, especially in peak times or emergency situations. If a pet needs to spend considerable time at your practice, you could also use this tool to notify a pet owner when to return to your facility if they decide to leave the premises for a time with plans to return later to pick up their pet. 

Get the Right Software for Your Animal Urgent Care with ER Express

If you’re considering adding an animal urgent care vertical to your existing veterinary practice, it’s important to be equipped with the right medical software that will set you up for success and allow your practice to operate as smoothly as possible. 

At ER Express, we provide a wide range of digital engagement solutions designed specifically for veterinary offices to improve their operations and make the process easy and efficient for patients and practitioners alike. For more information on how our tools can help your veterinary urgent care, request a demo today.

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