How do you future-proof your practice?

5 mins

If we asked you what superpower you would like to have, you might answer: flying like superman, talking to animals (very useful in your profession), stopping time, or perhaps predicting the future. When answering this question, you might start daydreaming, even though you know that superpowers (usually) are only possible in books and films. But suppose that the last example – predicting the future – is (almost) possible.

To prevent is better than to cure

This is perhaps an obvious place to start, but in this article, we are going to explain why prevention (in the broadest sense of the word) is better than a cure.

As a veterinary practice, you want to prevent pets from getting sick and when necessary, you are the right person to take care of the healing. Prevention, so preventative care, is a task in which you support the pet owner with advice and help, and in this role, you are the expert on the optimal health of pets. You offer advice, information, preventative treatments such as vaccination, or a major intervention such as dental treatment, and diagnostics. Of course, preventative care has a price, but still better (including for the pet) to prevent than to cure.

But, what would happen if a pet owner decides not to take the steps in ‘prevention’ anymore? For example, circumstances (such as the current financial crisis) mean that the owner has to make choices and decisions about what to do.

Looking into the future with a best-case or worst-case scenario
When a change happens on a large scale, it can also have consequences for your practice. We’ve got a fun exercise for you that can help you future-proof your practice and figure out what steps you need to take to get there.

For the example below, we will use elements that are in play now (in 2022). But you can also think of other ‘storylines’, such as the effect of your practice location, changes in regulations, or perhaps change in personnel.

Tip: involve your entire team in this exercise. With a few post-its and an empty wall, you can quickly visualise the scenarios.

  1. Think of a worst-case scenario for your practice in 3-5 years.
  2. Think of a best-case scenario for your practice in 3-5 years.

Think big and let your imagination run wild. For both scenarios, work backwards from the outcome in 3-5 steps, considering moments or changes that are needed to go between each stage.

The idea here is that it is easier to create a path if you have a result in mind, and it’s easier to identify moments which have an impact on the outcome. These moments can then be converted into concrete steps, on which you can action.

Example scenarios

Click on the lines below to discover two different example scenarios and the possible outcomes.

Team strategy

If you enjoy looking into the future, a method like this is an excellent way to take the first step. Almost playfully, you will discover different moments and elements that can determine the future of your practice. If you perform this exercise together with your entire team, it will increase the team spirit and your employees will be more motivated to commit themselves to this shared vision of the future.

This exercise is called the “Heaven or Hell” method and is often used by companies as part of their business strategy. This Havard Business Review article; Living in the Futures gives some more insight and background about how and why you would like to look in the future. Although the “Heaven or Hell method” is quickly dismissed (possibly due to the type of company referred to in this article), we hope our article inspires you to devise a strategy for your practice.

For example, what changes – small or large – could you implement to be better off in the future? Through the exercises above, have you discovered that you would like to have more time for your patients in the future? If so, have a look at tools in Animana that can help you, for example; automatic reminders, or working with standardised texts; which can save time and increase compliance. If you want to work in a more standardised way, take a look at using custom protocols. And have you ever considered offering a subscription to your customers?

Images from the future*

A final note on the image for this article. Normally, we use photos selected from a stock library, however, for this forward-looking article, the image was generated using the latest AI (artificial intelligence) tools which create an image based on keywords. To get our image, we gave it the terms “Vet visit in the year 3022” and “Walk with a dog in the year 3022“!

* Editoral note — April 2024:
The AI images in this article were generated using the initial AI models from mid-2022. We recognise that using the currently available AI models would produce images of superior quality if we were to recreate them with the same prompts. However, we have deliberately chosen not to update the images to demonstrate how quickly technology can advance.

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