The positives are all covered and understood. Let’s talk a little about risk. It always amuses me when third party applications come knocking, wanting to integrate their clever solutions to Veterinary Practice Management (VPMS / EMR) systems. It provides instant access to hundreds of potential customers for them, and a new solution for their customers. Everyone benefits right? There are three potential issues I see with this. Note that while it does not apply to every solution, one does need to be aware of potential risks associated with such a marriage of convenience for all involved - the VPMS / EMR provider, the Veterinary Practice, and the end-user client.
ISSUE ONE: ACQUISITION: This is the most worrying one for all parties involved so I will cover it first. Many start-ups have an end goal to grow rapidly and then to exit. So while they may be your best friend when courting, they do levitate to organisations that can not only give them the maximum number of clients but those that will end up acquiring them. Acquisitions take place more for strategic than financial reasons as most fast growing start-ups are not really that profitable in their growth stage. Once an acquisition takes place, there is no doubt the acquirer has strategic plans for their own solutions. One might argue that it would be foolish to not support already integrated partners whose clients provide steady revenue. Of course it would. And the problem is? My prediction is that existing integrations would remain with limited functionality and limited feature growth. An enhanced version would then surface with a more deeply integrated solution with the acquirer’s own solutions. This will no doubt leave the VPMS provider with some issues such as wasted effort, limited functionality, legacy offerings, and back to their own drawing board, with a potential claim of IP breach. Watch this space.
ISSUE TWO: DATA PRIVACY: When one system integrates with another, is client data travelling to the third party provider for use, storage, or both? If so, have your clients given you permission under current privacy legislation and is it GDPR compliant? If you are using third party providers for services such as Appointment Booking, Reminders, Repeat Prescriptions, Marketing, and so on, do they hold client data, even temporarily (ability to sniff), and if so, is that acceptable? If stored on their servers, is your data at risk and could it be used by the third party in future for their own benefit without your knowledge? Can that data be used to solicit your clients in future, or used /sold for statistical purposes to identify your business performance with a potential hidden agenda? It is best to ask these questions and understand them before you sign on. Note that end-user clients could have a claim against you – it could be even worse if it’s a Class Action suit!
ISSUE THREE: ROADMAP: Every provider will passionately believe in their product and feel they have some clever IP with a great roadmap ahead. We certainly do, with our Online Booking Tool, and also our BAM Business Analytics offering amongst many others, existing and ones to come for example. For a VPMS provider, effort to integrate and then to maintain that integration perpetually to match the provider’s own updates and roadmap can sometimes be a distraction to the core application and its own roadmap. Such intermittent “breakages” can be a costly addition to one’s own IT budget, let alone client dissatisfaction. Without revenue sharing it is just another cost to the bottom line.
Don’t get me wrong; there are very clever Add-ons out there that we need to integrate with to provide gaps in our own solutions. It is however important for all CEOs to take note of potential issues in future. At best, food for thought.