Sunday, August 8, 2010

Using the Cloud

What exactly is the Cloud? In web terms, the Cloud refers to using the web to store and process information. At our My Pet's Animal Hospitals, we use the Cloud in a number of ways.

First, we use Google docs for several tasks. Google docs is an area on Google that allows you to store documents. The great thing about Google docs is that you get to share documents and invite your staff to edit or add to them. So what documents would be useful to share?

My favourite one is our Sam's Club list. It's a simple text document that any of our staff can access. Anytime we start to run out of something (toilet paper, paper towels, floor cleaner, etc), a staff member can add it to the list. Then if I happen to be going to Sam's Club, I can access the list from my mobile phone and have an up-to-date list to work from. Brilliant!

Another Google doc that we use is our medical supplies order list and log. Again, any staff member can access the list and add needed supplies to the list. Then our designated orderers can place an order to one of our vendors or distributors. The orderers note on the log when an item is ordered as well as when it is received so everyone knows what a particular item's status is in the ordering process. Now one of our employees who recently had a baby can place orders from home and still be productive.

As you can see, there are an infinite number of uses for Google docs. And with using this free service, you are now using the Cloud.

The other Cloud service that we use is is an online staff scheduling service that creates customizable staff schedules. We also use it as a way to communicate with one another. A designated manager can send a message to all staff members at the same time, and of course individual messages among staff members are also possible. Staff members can request time off and trade shifts with this site. Click here for more info.

We use as our payroll service online. With all our staff required to use direct deposit, payroll dates don't have to interfere with vacation plans - although they still may interfere with your vacation. Believe me, I didn't mind too much taking 30 minutes out from the pool on my Jamaica vacation to do payroll.

All of our veterinary staff education is run online with a service that I offer to other veterinary animal hospitals through offers a free basic 2 hour course for veterinary staff members on heartworm disease, basic vaccinations, dental cleanings, fecals and safety.

The best thing about eVetU, however, is that eVetU can set up your own veterinary staff training website in the same format that an online university would offer courses. EVetU sets up the platform and then you provide the course content. The course content could include text, readings, videos that you have made, videos from youtube, pictures,etc. At My Pet's Animal Hospital, we use this platform to set up our 8-hr employee orientation. Our orientation course has links to the IRS w4 form, our employee handbook and a quiz on it, our team training manual and a quiz on it too, a welcome video from me - the "boss" - telling new employees about our hospital and what I expect of them, the basic veterinary assistant course from eVetU, an introduction to our practice software, and a training checklist which provides the basis of their ongoing training once they are through orientation. Each course has a designated teacher who can monitor the employee's progress. We set you up as the teacher and you set up your own course.

Hopefully, in the future, we'll have veterinary practice software that is web-based. There are a few programs out there right now but with poor support. Once we have a full-fledged veterinary software program on the web, we will finally be able to be completely cloud-based.