You Need a Mobile App for your Veterinary Hospital but Not for the Reasons You Think

By Stacee Santi, DVM

As of March of 2017, 77% of Americans now have a smartphone and it became more likely to die from taking a selfie than being attacked by a shark. Getting an app for your hospital is all the buzz but probably not for the reasons you think.

Not all of your clients will want to use an app though and you need to make sure that before you start paying for one, you have the right type of clientele that will use it. There are the only certain types of clients that will enjoy using your app. They are clients who:

  1. would like to do business with you without calling
  2. are in a hurry and have very little time for errands
  3. want to be informed about health risks, pet food recalls, outbreaks and other information that will help their pet stay healthy
  4. like access to health articles and videos
  5. work during your business hours
  6. aren’t reading your emails (~80%)

For a while I thought the loyalty program was the main feature of the app but then I realized it was only the hook for the end game. When I introduced a reward program into my hospital in 2011 our clients went crazy and it wasn’t just the millennials. I started hearing things like “What else can I buy?” at the front desk on a regular basis. And clients would holler out “Yay!! I just got 8 stamps. I’m so excited”. In my 20 years of veterinary practice, I have heard alot of things hollered at the front desk when the bill is presented but this wasn’t one of them.

Another huge benefit you might be thinking of if you have a mobile app is the ability to divert phone traffic off the front desk for refills. Want to make your front desk cry? Ask them what their life would be like if they never had to answer the phone again for a refill. The truth is that the receptionist’s definition of a good vs. bad day is solely dependent on how many times the phones rings. I always say I would rather spay 8 fat labs that work one day at the front desk. I couldn’t take the constant interruptions.

The main reason your hospital needs an app isn’t for the data integration either. You might not realize this but with some pretty cool technology, your mobile app can sync to the practice software and allow client’s to view their pets reminders and appointments right on their smartphone. This involves using an API and handling millions of files on the daily to display the most current reminders and appointments with one click. If you’ve ever had a client say “Can you tell me when my 6 cats are due for all their services?”, you’ll understand the value of this.

But truth is each of those features, each great in their own right, are really driving to one main benefit and it’s probably something you aren’t even thinking about. It’s your brand value. The average American spends 4 hours a day of non-voice time on their phone (make that 5 if you are a millennial). and over 90% of that time is in apps. Brand recognition is all about getting your name in front of consumers.

When you have a custom branded icon that your clients are staring at for over 4 hours a day every day, it’s powerful, subliminally.

Then, we take that one step further when we are invited into our client’s lives with push notifications when they download your app. This means, to be clear, that your client has requested that you interrupt their day as you see fit with important information about your hospital and their pet’s healthcare. This means that whenever you feel like sending a push notification branded with your icon and hospital name, you can make your client think of you for a few seconds. This is the culmination…the point of the whole app….brand value.

When relevant content is delivered to your client’s smartphone by your app name and icon, they acknowledge it is your brand taking care of them. It’s a really big deal.You can send push notifications for many situations like:

  • Time to give your parasite prevention
  • Pet food recall
  • Influenza outbreak
  • Heartworm positive case in the area
  • Personal reminder for monthly adequate shots
  • Breed-specific notifications like the risks of GDV to all Great Dane owners

The veterinarian’s role is to educate pet owners about disease prevention, risks and treatments for their beloved pet. We, the veterinarians, are the regarded source of valuable information for pet healthcare, not Dr. Google. The app just makes it a whole lot easier to connect with clients and build major brand credibility at the same time but don’t get it twisted… it’s the custom icon that matters the most in the end.

Dr. Stacee Santi, CEO/Founder Vet2Pet

Dr. Stacee Santi is a 1996 DVM graduate from Colorado State University and the founder of Vet2Pet, a technology startup that builds personalized custom apps for veterinary practices. With over 20 years of clinical experience in small animal and emergency practice, Stacee brings an “in the trenches” approach to innovation and solutions for veterinary teams. She has also served as a medical advisory consultant for NVA for 5 years, medical director for a general/ER practice in Colorado as well as current President of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. She can be reached at

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