‘The future of veterinary communication - Veterinary Practice
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‘The future of veterinary communication

“VET-XML represents the future of veterinary communication,” declared Mike Vaughan. “It’s a very exciting project.”

Mr Vaughan was speaking at the annual congress of the British Veterinary Hospitals Association last month. He has been on SPVS Council for two-and-a-half years and has the responsibility for overseeing the development of the project which aims to provide data and communication standardisation for practice management systems (PMSs).

“There has never been a greater requirement for standardisation,” he continued, stating that all the leading PMS suppliers, insurers, laboratory companies and others, including a number of pharmaceutical companies, had either signed up to it or were showing interest.

Perhaps surprisingly, about a third of the congress delegates said they had not heard of it and none of them had started using it. Having ascertained this information, Mr Vaughan went on to explain “the significant benefits” which included, in particular, the ability to share information in a standard computer format but also to ensure secure delivery of that information, be it statistical information or images.

“We now have a viable hub,” he said, “the UK’s first dedicated hub for the veterinary profession.” VetEnvoy had been set up specifically to deliver information and its security rivals that of on-line banking: “It is secure, confidential, with guaranteed delivery, and reliable. You will be able to readily and securely exchange information,” he added.

The system could deal with insurance claims on a totally paperless basis and practices already using it for this had found their administrative burden reduced by at least 40% and settlement time had dropped from 10 days to less than three.

“This common data format is good for your pocket and good for the environment,” Mr Vaughan said. “The UK is leading the world in this and has been approached by vets in North America regarding the system; the VetXML consortium is to meet with them at the NAVC in Orlando in January.”

There is currently a 90-day free trial for practices in the UK. Details about the system are on www.vetxml.org and www.vetenvoy.com.

Time to revise

“There has never been a better time to revise your business model and make changes,” Peter Gripper of Anval told the congress. “People are expecting change.”

Responding to the question, “What have we learnt from the recession?” he said practices should reduce their exposure to poor payers, renegotiate their purchasing contracts, and streamline and simplify their procedures. “No business model is sacrosanct,” he said. “Prepare to adapt and react to changing markets, don’t trust anyone and be careful about new customers. Vets are not immune from market forces. What you can control you must, and what you can’t control you need to adapt for.”

Mr Gripper said that many practices lacked strategic planning and he urged them to develop a new business model for the end of the recession.

Among his suggestions: drop low margin work and maintain and promote profitable work; improve service and client contact; devise policies that deliver clinical benefits; devise service-driven strategies and deliver that service.


The congress had Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health as its main sponsor with other sponsors being Bayer Healthcare, BCF Technology, Veterinary Endoscopy Services and Veterinary Insurance Agency.

These companies took part in the commercial exhibition along with AT Veterinary Systems, Pinmoore Animal Laboratory Services, Karl Storz Endoscopy, the Moore Scarrott Partnership, Foresight Veterinary Teleradiology and Quality Clinical Reagents.

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