Any veterinary provider working for an independent practice, and many working for the major chains, are usually familiar with Vetsource, at least in passing. They're one of the biggest names in veterinary services on the practice side, with a variety of vet-focused business services aimed at smoothing the drudgery of paperwork and record-keeping we all have to accept as part of our lives as vets.
What Does Vetsource Do, Exactly?
Vetsource, as mentioned, is a business service provider. In the far-off years before 2008, they were founded as a company providing pharmacy prescription management and home delivery for vet medications. 2008 was their sea change when they shifted gears into a more comprehensive veterinary platform for practices to manage all kinds of needs on the business side of things.
Their specific services include:
Prescription Management. Once their core service, now one part of their total business package, this part of the platform allows you to manage prescriptions you and your practice write, approve online orders through your website, manage requests from various pharmacy retailers, and more.
Veterinary Analytics. Every good business needs data to grow. Knowing what works and what doesn't, how to optimize performance in various areas of a practice, how your marketing efforts are bearing fruit, and even trends in services needed can all be good information to help guide future success.
Client Engagement. Billing itself as "veterinary medicine's only customizable, all-in-one client communication solution," this part of their platform is an app platform that helps you provide engaging experiences and services to your patients. Whether you just want simple scheduling or a more comprehensive app, you can build it here.
Payment Processing. Every practice needs some way to handle the financial side of things, and while there are a huge number of possible payment processors available, most of them aren't tailored or configured to work with veterinary practices. With your unique needs and challenges, having a platform designed for use in your industry can be very helpful.
Marketing Services. Whether it's operating a newsletter for your patients, sending out mass mailers or direct mailers to your customers, or focusing on digital marketing, you can manage any and all of your marketing and outreach efforts through this central platform.
While all of these services are available individually from other providers, both in and out of the veterinary world, only Vetsource provides one centralized, comprehensive app for all of them.
Why Would You Want a Vetsource Alternative?
If one platform does everything, why would you need an alternative?
Well, there are a lot of different reasons.
One of the biggest is simply that you don't want or need a single does-everything platform. Maybe you've been happily using a different payment processor and a different pharmacy network for years, and you don't want to invest in a service that would either take over those operations or have to use finicky integrations with what you're currently using.
Another is that Vetsource, being the industry standard, can set their own prices. Those prices are not exactly cheap. While veterinary care is rarely inexpensive, you might not want to be paying, for example, $250 per month for analytics, $1,160 per month for parasiticide tracking, and more for other services.
Platforms like Vetsource benefit from having deep, comprehensive integrations within your practice. They offer a lot, and they cost a lot, so you want to make as much use out of them as you possibly can. If you aren't willing or able to make that much of an investment – even to the point of changing how your practice operates to suit the platform – you aren't going to get full value out of it.
You also might not want to make use of their marketing channels. You may have your own email newsletter system, your own mailer deals, and even your own app and content marketing. Once again, it's a large chunk of their platform you wouldn't be getting use out of.
It's no wonder that many practices, particularly smaller practices, want more modular alternatives with lower expenses to grow, at least until they outgrow them. So, what are your alternatives?
Option 1: Covetrus
One of the biggest competitors to Vetsource, Covetrus operates in 19 different countries and works with over 100,000 practices worldwide. They're very similar to Vetsource in that they're a single comprehensive business, but they have numerous sub-brands dedicated to specific kinds of services. Some of their brands include Abase, Avimark, Calibra, Impromed, PSIVet, and MediVet, to name just a handful.
Broadly, Covetrus can be broken into four categories of service.
Supply Chain. Supply chain management involves a million tiny details, ranging from the consumables you use every day in your practice, to rarer medications and tools, to equipment repair, and more. They also offer OSHA compliance reviews, lease negotiations for your offices, and payment processing for your practice as a whole. Inventory management is included.
Practice Management. Software solutions for managing every aspect of your practice can be found under one of the Covetrus brands. Covetrus Pulse is their primary offering, including all kinds of different practice management modules, as well as integrations with third-party software. This is also where Avimark and Impromed live, as specialized forms of practice management for specific kinds of practices. They also have client communications, some analytics monitoring, data backups, and more.
Prescription Management. Though it's kind of a combination of the previous two, prescription management is important enough that it gets a category of its own. Creating, approving, renewing, compounding, and managing prescriptions can all be handled through this platform. They also integrate some prescription analytics here, as well as communications for refill reminders and other messaging. You can even use it to open your own branded pharmacy, sourcing medications through their platform.
Care Planning. Acknowledging the expenses of veterinary care, Covetrus offers this portion of their platform to help you manage things like offering monthly payments instead of single large bills, finding modular optional services to add or remove as necessary, creating customized care plans for ongoing illnesses, and leveraging the information you gather through providing these plans to grow your practice.
Overall, Covetrus is probably the biggest and best alternative to Vetsource, though it's also its own ecosystem. Additionally, it's quite expensive as well, though for what you get, it's not oppressive.
Option 2: Tebra
Tebra is a large brand made up of several smaller brands, including one we were going to recommend, PatientPop. PatientPop still exists, but it's now part of the Tebra umbrella, and since Tebra offers everything Pop did, it's a no-brainer to shift the recommendation.
Tebra's offerings are, once again, easily divided into five groups.
Practice Growth. This is where all of the marketing, communication, and optimization tools and platform options live.
Patient Experience. This section includes various tools and services for making working with your practice a smoother, simpler, and more effective option. Removing roadblocks to care is a significant issue in modern veterinary care, after all.
Care Delivery. This is a lot of monitoring processes and response times and gives actionable insight into how you can improve the efficiency and efficacy of your processes to provide the best possible care.
Billing and Payments. As you might imagine, this is all of your billing, payment, and processing tools for handling the financial side of your practice.
Data and Insights. This is all of the analytics and status monitoring tools that help you not just with your own information but in benchmarking yourself against local competition.
The only significant downside to Tebra is that it's not purely a veterinary platform. Instead, it's healthcare in general, with veterinary care as one of the specialties they can operate within. Unfortunately, this means sometimes the options and configurations are a little more human-focused than you'd find truly useful, but this is mostly easy to work around.
Option 3: Otto
Otto used to be named TeleVet but rebranded to make more of a name for itself.
They divide their services into three main groups:
Flow. Flow is a platform for client communications and workplace processes, aimed at automation and streamlining. If you've ever found yourself repeating the same task for the thousandth time, only to wish there was a way to optimize it, this is how. Among other things, Flow helps with integration with other apps, including Covetrus apps like Avimark. It handles things like scheduling, form management, charting, and follow-ups.
Pay. As you might expect from the name, Otto Pay is a payment processor aimed specifically at veterinary care. It offers a wide range of useful options, including wireless terminals, text payments, pre- and post-payments, and financial reporting.
Care. Otto Care is the third branch of Otto services and is focused entirely on creating and offering care plans. These can be as simple as standardized checkups, customized plans for individual pets, and even emergency services.
Currently, one of Otto's biggest benefits is relatively low pricing, though you need to get a customized quote to know exactly what they'll charge you. They just raised over $40 million in venture funding to expand, so pricing will likely remain low for a while; now's definitely a good time to sign up.
Option 4: Cornerstone
Cornerstone is an IDEXX company, and they're one of the largest available veterinary platforms for managing a practice. They have a little bit of everything – from small animals to livestock, equine, aquatic, and much more. IDEXX is one of the most comprehensive veterinary and animal care providers, with a huge array of services, tests, and other useful modules.
Cornerstone is, naturally, a subset of IDEXX services. It's specifically a platform meant for practice management and integrations; in a way, it can be considered the Epic of veterinary care. The features list is quite robust, with apps for scheduling, invoicing, inventory management and control, EMR, analytics and reporting, whiteboarding, compliance assessments, imaging, and diagnostics. They do payment processing and client communications as well.
The tricky part of Cornerstone is that it's less one giant app and more a large library of modules that all need to be configured to work together. For example, if you want preventative care management, you need to get a Petly plan; if you want referral marketing management, you need rVetLink, and if you want diagnostic integrations, you need VetConnect.
While it all sounds quite complicated, the ala carte nature of the platform means you can develop something completely customized for your needs.
What Option is Best for Your Practice?
There's no single answer to this question. Every practice (at least every non-corporate practice) is unique. You have a unique set of patients, unique challenges relating to what you need to handle and what experience you have, how you can grow your practice, and more.
Some practices will benefit from using a hodgepodge of smaller service providers for each individual portion of practice management, and none of these large platforms will work. Others find they outgrow the mixture of third-party apps and want to move to something more centralized. And, of course, some of these options are unavoidable; just about every one feeds into Avimark at some point, for example.
Whatever you need, we may be able to help. At Hope Vet, we recognize that your job as a vet and your job as a practice owner are different, and sometimes it all becomes too much to handle. So, let us shoulder some of the care burden while you focus on growing your practice. If you want consultations for neurology, oncology, internal medicine, dermatology, or other veterinary care, we're available for consultation and reports. We also offer second opinions for your patients and their peace of mind.
All you need to do to get started is give us a call. While we aren't able to run your practice for you, handle your marketing, or provide data analytics, we can help you with care while you focus on those elements of practice in other ways. Drop us a line to get started, and if you have any questions, feel free to let us know.