Overview


A gentleman by the name of Art Fry working at 3M had a problem while singing in his church choir. His bookmarks kept falling out. So, together with Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist who had earlier discovered the formula for the “reusable not too sticky stuff” in 1968, they “invented” the 3M Post-it notes. Now used around the world and a household name for remembering and reminding all sorts of stuff.

We got thinking. What if we could develop a smart and intelligent notes engine in VETLINKSQL that the user could use, re-use and position, for all sorts of pop-ups, reminders, and even auto-printing. The plan was to not having to keep re-creating changes in the software but to develop a simple “tool” for the user that would have unlimited uses, even as the software continued to evolve. New “use attributes” could then be added over time to enhance this tool. The final product had to be so simple from a user perspective, that its’ underlying power would be taken for granted by users without any thought given to its complex underlying architecture.

 The aim was to create a tool that could be used to develop “systems” within a business so that everyone could be reminded or updated on procedures, desires, and the do’s and don’ts of the management team at all times. 


After a “think tank” team made up of management consultants, programmers and our own in-house “serial entrepreneur” who came up with the original idea, we developed what we now call INTELLIGENT NOTES (sometimes also referred to as Advanced Notes).

WHAT IS AN INTELLIGENT NOTE


The power is in its simplicity. From a user perspective, an intelligent note is simply a post-it type note that can be attached to any Client, Animal, Supplier, Product/Service, and in certain scenarios, to medical cases with attached histories. One may attach as many notes as required to a single record, even though a single note can have multiple “actions” anyway. A note could have unique content, or it can be “shared” and attached to several records as and when required. Mail-merge variables are also available to “personalise” notes.

NOTE ATTRIBUTES


Every note that is attached to a record can have what we call “attributes”. Attributes are basically features that one may want the note to perform at times throughout the program’s workflow. Over time, new attributes will be added thereby enhancing the functionality, and taking advantage of the underlying architecture.

NOTE ACTIONS


Note actions form part of the attribute (types of attributes) but are distinct “actions” such as POP, SHOW, PRINT, etc.

MULTIPLE ATTRIBUTES WITH ACTIONS


The notes can have multiple attributes and actions so that a note that has pop-ups can also be printed, hidden, and/or activated at appointment as well as billing, etc. Combining attributes can provide multiple strategies for making sure that management systems do not fall through any gaps.

Object Oriented


VetlinkSQL is developed using modern OOT (Object Oriented Technology). This allows for a very well structured code base that is easy to maintain and update. “Objects”, once written and tested, may be used all throughout the program with ease. A bug-fix on an object means that the entire application where the object is implemented is automatically updated and fixed. This is the only way forward for modern applications – ask your vendor in writing if their application is Object Oriented – if not, you could be buying very old legacy technology.

EXAMPLES


We continue to be surprised and amazed at what users come up with when they report how they are able to use this tool to solve problems that we had not quite envisaged. Here are just a few examples of what one could use this tool for.

Client & Animal Notes


Each client and animal record may have as many notes attached as required. Each note may then have an attribute selected. Here are some common use examples:
  • Show on Record Display:

    This is a note that will be visible on the record or “card” whenever one looks up the client or animal. The reverse is that this note will be active but can be hidden from staff. Some examples:
    • To remind staff not to update certain details on the record
    • To simply record some additional information such as “simple notes”
    • To indicate any serious information relevant to this client/animal
  • Popup on Record Display:

    This note will automatically pop up on-screen as soon as the client record in question is searched and selected. There are various uses for this such as:
    • Alert a staff member on any particular issue with this client/animal
    • To indicate any serious information relevant to this client/animal
    • Alert say an equine record to highlight where the horse may be located
  • Popup on Record Edit:

    These notes will pop up as soon as a user tries to edit this record. Example uses may be as follows:
    • Inform the user to seek permission before updating information
    • Informing the user to update some other records as well
    • Informing the user that certain information should not be changed
    • Informing the user that the address is indeed correct and they must look at the difference between postal and delivery to seek out that data is indeed correct, etc
    • Anything else that you need to let users know as soon as they try to edit this record!
  • Popup on Record Delete:

    These notes will pop up as soon as a user tries to delete this record. Example uses may be as follows:
    • Inform the user to seek permission before deleting this record
    • Informing the user to update some other records as well
    • Informing the user that this is the correct data and it may be a common mistake to delete
    • Anything else that you need to let users know as soon as they try to delete this record!
  • Popup at Billing:

    These notes will automatically pop up to the user whenever a bill is made for this client. This may be used to inform/remind staff of many things. Some simple examples are as follows:
    • To talk over debt levels and ask to bring in payment or refuse retail sale
    • To remind the client that they still have outstanding equipment (cage?)
    • To remind staff that this client has special pricing or a one-off rebate until a certain date
    • To remind staff that this is a “celebrity” or special client that may need extra courtesy
    • Note set by say, the equine billing department that this syndicate member has outstanding bill on a horse that he is a co-owner of?
    • Pop up to remind staff never to sell a particular product to the client/animal due to allergy
    • Etc, - any notes that you may want to have every staff member see when billing this client/animal
  • Popup on Appointment:

    These notes will automatically pop up to the user whenever the relevant record is accessed to make an appointment for the selected client or animal. This may be used to inform/remind staff of many things. Some simple examples are as follows:
    • To talk over debt levels and ask to bring in payment
    • To remind the client that they still have outstanding equipment (cage?)
    • To remind staff that they may not make any appointments for this client
    • To remind staff that this is a “celebrity” or special client that may need privacy
    • Note set by say, the equine billing department that this syndicate member has outstanding bill on a horse that he is a co-owner of?
    • Etc, - any notes that you may want to have every staff member see when attempting to make an appointment
  • Show on Appointment:

    Same as above except that it is a subtle displayed note and not an “in-your-face” pop-up.
  • Show on Bill Tab:

    This is a note that will be visible on the billing screen each time the relevant animal is billed.
  • Show on History Tab:

    This is a note that will be visible on the history screen/tab each time the relevant animal is having its history taken.
    • Can have important continuous information that one must know about this patient
    • Any allergies or major surgery work done in the past
    • Indicate animal demeanour so that user is continuously informed
  • Popup on Arrival Billing:

    This note will pop up when the client is billed via the arrival work-flow process. This is usually when an appointment is made and the client is billed via an arrivals list off the appointments dairy.
  • Popup on Arrival/Admit:

    This type of note will popup when the patient is admitted (and weight taken at front counter) at arrival time via the appointments workflow process. Numerous notes can be placed here such as:
    • Identifying any payment issues and pre-agreements
    • Any particular medical issues that need to be highlighted at this stage
    • General alerts before consultation that may be important
  • Print on Bill:

    This note will print on the client’s bill. There are several uses for this such as:
    • Printing special terms and conditions specific to this client
    • Printing specific instructions to this client due to the type of client he/she is (breeder, dairy, sheep, beef, etc)
    • Special and continuous reminder for this client/animal about something
  • Log on Billing:

    This note will automatically be logged in the audit logs when this client is billed. There may be specific uses for this including surveillance of accounts, etc.

Product / Services Notes


Intelligent notes attached to products and services records are very useful for the Practice Manager to have “systems” in place. It is also very useful for Veterinarians to be able to use this feature to have simple post-care instructions printed on to bills. For the person managing stock, some of the note attributes are very useful indeed. And finally, for the marketing manager, this tool can assist with a consistent “on-selling” policy that will be followed automatically by seasoned as well as temporary staff members. A non-exhaustive list is described below:
  • Show on Record Display:

    This is a note that will be visible on the record or “card” whenever one looks up this product or service. The reverse is that this note will be active but can be hidden from staff. Some examples:
    • To remind staff not to update certain details on the record
    • To simply record some additional information such as “simple notes”
    • To indicate any serious information relevant to this product
    • Dosage information
  • Popup on Record Display:

    This note will automatically pop up on-screen as soon as the product/service record in question is searched and selected. There are various uses for this such as:
    • Alert a staff member on any particular issue with this product/service
    • To indicate any important information relevant to this product/service
    • Alert to indicate where this product may be stored in the building
  • Popup on Record Edit:

    These notes will pop up as soon as a user tries to edit this record. Example uses may be as follows:
    • Inform the user to seek permission before updating information
    • Informing the user to update some other records as well
    • Informing the user that certain information should not be changed
    • Informing the user that the data is indeed correct
    • Anything else that you need to let users know as soon as they try to edit this record!
  • Popup on Record Delete:

    These notes will pop up as soon as a user tries to delete this record. Example uses may be as follows:
    • Inform the user to seek permission before deleting this record
    • Informing the user to update some other records as well
    • Informing the user that this is the correct data and it may be a common mistake to delete
    • Anything else that you need to let users know as soon as they try to delete this record!
  • Popup at Billing:

    These notes will automatically pop up to the user whenever this product is placed on a bill. This may be used to inform/remind staff of many things. Some simple examples are as follows:
    • To remind the staff – “Would you like fries with that?” – marketing assistance
    • To provide special promotional information – eg. “Buy 2 and get a free bag”
    • To warn staff about prescription products and to seek Vet assistance
    • To warn staff about species relevance just in case it is being sold to incorrect species
    • To remind staff to re-stock this item as it is only one is kept in stock at any one time
    • To tell staff where this product may be located in the building
    • Etc, - any notes that you may want to have every staff member see when billing this product/service
  • Print on Bill:

    This note will print on the client’s bill when this product/service is used. There are several uses for this such as:
    • Printing any special instructions about the product application/restriction
    • Printing special post-op care instructions in simple text at the bottom of the receipt
    • Printing dosage and special care instructions when using this product
  • Log on Billing/Order:

    This note will automatically be logged in the audit logs when this product is billed or ordered. There may be specific uses for this including surveillance of billing and ordering activity, etc.
  • Pop at Order:

    This message will pop up as soon as the product is placed on an order. Common uses are as follows:
    • Remind staff to check areas in the building before ordering
    • Remind staff to ask manager before ordering
    • Remind staff to check prices at all suppliers first as prices and stock fluctuate
    • Remind staff quantity to order; not to overstock
    • Remind staff to check expiry before ordering
    • Etc, - allows the PM to be absent yet maintain “systems” on stock management
  • Pop at Inwards Goods:

    This message will pop up as soon as the product is receipted on arrival and the inwards goods invoices are being check off. Common uses are as follows:
    • Instruct staff to place correct quantities in different areas of the building
    • Special instructions about pack sizes and labelling instructions
    • Special note to remind price checks for past mistakes
    • Note to ask staff to check expiry dates and then stock shelf for FIFO arrangement
    • Etc – any product specific thing that you may want staff reminded of when it arrives
  • Future Plans:

    These new attributes will be implemented in future upgrades:
    • Pop at stock-take, Print on Order, Print on Inwards Goods, Print on Stock Take, etc

Special Intelligent Bill Notes


This feature is an in-build extension of the underlying architecture of intelligent notes. After a consultation process, the Veterinarian is able to add a note called “Message to Reception”; this in effect is a pop up at billing note. This system facilitates an option for the Veterinarian to attach a note that will be seen by anyone in the clinic that accesses the particular case. This feature has an added option to be able to pick from a range of pre-configured messages. Examples may include message to reception staff to advise client on flea treatment, re-book an appointment, advise when the animal will be ready to go home, any special instructions for the client when they call, etc.