Focus on our Digital Future

SPVS and Veterinary Management Group would like to invite you to join us for "Focus on our Digital Future", an online CPD event about telemedicine and communications in a post Covid-19 world.

This event consists of 8 hours of CPD content.

The Webinar Schedule

There will be 2 webinar streams running online simultaneously, and both streams will be available for you to view on demand after the live event.
The agenda for the day is as follows:

8:30am - Kick off the day with Sam Burkey’s Virtual Wake Up Yoga

Sam Burkey, Yoga Teacher

We are delighted to have Sam Burkey leading our early morning virtual yoga at 8:30. Sam will lead a class that will be accessible to first time as well as experienced yogis.  She will help unwind you from your beds with an early morning stretch and twist class.

Sam has been practising yoga for over 20 years, travelling to many different parts of the world to study and explore many different styles of yoga.  Her very personal approach draws from several different yoga traditions and is underpinned by a deep appreciation for anatomy and physiology. If you miss the 8:00 session, we will record and repeat it at the end of the day to unwind you from your chair!  The really enthusiastic can do it twice.

Stream A: Telemedicine in a Post Covid-19 World

10:00 - Creating a Virtual Referral Service in your GP Practice

Nuala Summerfield, Virtual Veterinary Specialists (VVS)

In this session, Cardiology Specialist and founder of VVS, Nuala Summerfield will explain both the benefits and the steps required to bring Specialist-level care into first opinion practices, seamlessly and immersively. Nuala will share real-life case study examples of internal referral streams that have been developed in first opinion practices in UK, across multiple specialist disciplines including cardiology, diagnostic imaging, dermatology and neurology. She will also cover the many knock-on benefits to your team. First opinion nurses now have the opportunity to become “specialist nurses”, working regularly under the guidance of Specialists, within their own practice. First opinion vets have the opportunity to be mentored by and to work closely with a multidisciplinary team of Specialists, in all areas that they wish to develop further, again all within their own practice. The virtual future has had an unexpected boost from Covid-19; here is a chance to turn some of that to real positives going forward.

11:00 - Teleconsultations: a whole team approach

Jo Woodnutt, VetHelpDirect

Receptionists and nurses play a crucial role in the success of teleconsultations in practice.  The receptionists are ones that will answer the phone and where, in the past, they would book someone in for a physical consultation, they can now be offering s ome clients the option of a teleconsultation. If you have made your vets available for free consultations over the phone in the past, they also need to manage this expectation as you move to a paid for teleconsultation service. Receptionists are often the ones that get the concept first and as such can become your telemedicine evangelists.   In this session, we will talk about how to onboard your reception team to ensure they are fully trained and fully behind teleconsultations.  Some nurse consults, such as weight clinics can work really well as teleconsults and can be a good entry into the concept.   Jo Woodnutt is a vet with a broad experience of running teleconsults and now advises practices, particularly on getting the whole team on board.

12:00 - Harnessing Technology to Drive Efficiency and Profitability

Alan Robinson, Vet Dynamics

Many practices were forced to embrace digital technology to help them through lockdown and those that continue that process may be better able to adapt to the next stage. Increased demand, combined with the reduced capacity and lower efficiency caused by biosecurity measures, is a challenge, but there are ways technology can help.  Pushing your appointment bookings online, using teleconsults at least for triage and post op checks and digitising your dispensing can really help.  Many practices are now insisting on payments upfront, taking these digitally and by so doing have finally overcome that perennial practice problem of bad debt!  Alan Robinson takes a look at some of the ways you can drive efficiency and profit by embracing digital technology.

13:45 - Teleconsults Post Covid-19

Susie Samuel, Vet Help Direct, Peter Haworth, New Era Vets, & Tanya Crawley, Vets4Pets, Swindon

Almost every practice is likely to have carried out some form of video consultation by now, whether as a WhatsApp phone call, Facetime or via an established video consultation platform.  What are the key challenges that practices have faced, and what are the hurdles to be overcome to truly embed this in your practice?  Do you now understand the technology?  Is it working as well as it might and how successfully are you integrating this to your PMS and other existing systems?  And crucially, how are you selling it to your clients?

Susie Samuel helps you capitalise on the experience of teleconsulting when it was a necessity as you move forward to offering it as an integral part of your service. She is joined by Peter Haworth, New Era Veterinary Hospital and Tanya Crawley, Vets4Pets, Swindon, one was catapulted into telemedicine by the Corona-crisis, the other had been testing a telemedicine service before. They share their frustrations and successes, how they have made teleconsults time efficient, and how they market teleconsulting to their pet owners.  They will talk about the role teleconsults will play in their post Covid practice.

14:45 - Adapting your consultation styles to the small screen

Ruth Serlin, Lecturer in Veterinary Professionalism, Royal Vet College

Consulting online requires different communication skills to consulting in the surgery. Much of the theory remains, but the way you put it across requires different emphasis. Online, body language is harder to read and empathy can be harder to portray or pick up. There can be a difference in the perceived relationship too, particularly when the client is paying. It becomes even more important to compartmentalise the different sections of a consultation and to be really clear as to what you are asking the owner to do and what you are proposing as next steps. Ruth Serlin worked in first opinion practice herself before becoming a lecturer at RVC where she consulting skills at the RVC. She shares some of her research into owner/vet communication and takes you through an online consultation step by step. She will consider everything from what you should wear, the backdrop you choose, to how you react (or don’t react) to whatever might be going on in the background of the home you have been invited into.

Stream B: Communications in a Post Covid-19 World

10:00 - Client Communications in a Post Covid-19 World

Thom Jenkins, PetsApp

Everyone’s digital experience has changed in the past few months. Zoom is a household name and virtual socialising is a thing. Within a veterinary context, you will have clients who have now experienced video consulting and may be wondering why you are now asking them to bring their pet to the surgery. So why not capitalise on this and take your practice and your clients on the next step of the digital journey. Build digital relationships with them via text and online apps so that you become a part of their digital world, not just somewhere they turn when their pet is sick. Thom explains how to make this work, who in your practice team might be best to lead it and how to use it to improve your business, increase pet welfare and build owner engagement.

11:00 - Is your Practice Cyber Secure?

Jack Peploe, Vet IT Services

Cyber related crime has increased by as much as 400% just this last month.   Hackers have been taking advantage of businesses and their employees working  in unsecure home environments, possibly on unsecure home machines making them easy pickings.  Within the veterinary business, use of systems such as What’s App, Facetime and even Zoom for team catch ups or telemedicine could be leaving you exposed.  Jack Peploe, our very own certified ethical hacker and vet IT expert will demonstrate just how easy hacking is for those who know how.  He will talk through some actual real life examples of attacks hackers are using to dupe you and your team and show you what you can do to better spot these attacks and reduce your chances of falling victim to them.  He will demonstrate real life phishing and smishing attacks and play you an actual voice fraud call!

12:00 - Making more of emails and why your data base may be your most underused resource

Andrew Rastall, Connected Vet

Many practices spend large amounts of time and money on social media, Facebook in particular, and only email their clients to remind them when a flea or worming treatment or a vaccine is due. This ignores and underuses a hugely valuable resource. But proceed with caution as overuse or inappropriate use of emails can do more harm than good. Emails should deliver useful information and set up a dialogue; if you are using email to communicate with clients then emails from them must be answered and most importantly of all, emails should not be used as a blatant sales pitch. Then there is the problem of extracting your emails from your PMS in an easy, user friendly fashion. Andrew Rastall explains how to set up and measure a simple email marketing plan and is joined by a case study who shares examples of how their practice does it.

13:45 - Making a Move to a Paperless Inpatient Workflow System?

Peter Renwick, Plexi and Practice Case Study

More and more practices are opting for paperless workflow systems to track patients through hospitalisation and surgery. Everything from electronic whiteboards to track where the patient is throughout their visit, electronic treatment sheets and anaesthetic monitoring sheets to electronic consent forms and billing. In theory it streamlines the whole process, reducing human error and the likelihood of underbilling by missing chargeable items. But how easy is it to adapt in practice and to retrain your team and is it worth the effort? Peter Renwick from Plexi describes the paperless workflow system and he is joined by a practice who will explain why they decided to go this way in the first place, the challenges they experienced on the way and the eventual outcomes. Where are they now, how long did it take and was it worth it?

14:45 - AI – a threat to practice or a major breakthrough in improved diagnosis?

Robert Dawson, Vet-AI

Symptom checking software has been around for some time, but most are quite basic and largely used as a tool to drive pet owners to teleconsults or to their own vet.  However, one company, Vet-AI are developing a much more sophisticated tool which takes robotic diagnosis to a new level and at the same time gathers a massive amount of data on symptoms which will be of real value in preventing, predicting and treating a wide range of conditions.  So is this the future and a threat to first opinion practice?  Or will it harness the significant number of pet owners who turn to Dr Google rather than a vet?   Robert Dawson from Vet-AI, describes how it works and why he believes it can complement rather than compete with vets in practice.

15:45 - Future Proof Practice Management Systems: A Debate (plenary session – both streams together)

Paul May – MWI Animal Health, Alan Robinson – Vet Dynamics, Susie Samuel – VetHelpDirect, Peter Renwick – Plexi Software. Chair: Nick Lloyd – SPVS

The Covid 19 crisis has really tested remote access of PMS systems and how well they could adapt to more digital communication with clients.  Even before the crisis, there were a huge range of new technologies coming on the market from smart wearables to paperless workflow systems to owner apps.   For the vet or practice manager trying to navigate through these and decide which will work for their practice it can come down to how well their PMS can cope.  At the moment, for most practices, it is the Clinical Director or Practice Manager who is having to connect the dots and make the different applications somehow work together. No one wants the upheaval of changing their PMS unless it is absolutely necessary, but practices need to be confident their system is fit for the future.   How do PMS providers need to adapt and are they doing so?

About the speakers

Sam Burkey, Yoga Teacher

Sam has been practising yoga for over 20 years, travelling to many different parts of the world to study and explore many different styles of yoga. Her very personal approach draws from several different yoga traditions and is underpinned by a deep appreciation for anatomy and physiology.

Robert Dawson, Vet-AI

Robert qualified from Glasgow vet school in 1990 and joined a 3 vet mixed practice in Bristol. Over the next 25 years he helped grow the practice into a 50 vet practice group with a multi-disciplinary referral hospital, before selling to CVS in 2015. He spent 2 years as the small animal veterinary director before leaving to set up Vet-AI in 2018.

Thom Jenkins, Founder, PetsApp

Thom is the Co-founder and CEO of PetsApp, a mobile-first veterinary telemedicine platform enabling veterinary clinics to better engage with pet owners and better advocate for their patients. He has served as the Chief Operating Officer of multi-site private-equity backed veterinary groups in both Europe and Asia, operating clinics in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK. Thom is Chair of VetForum, an international series of B2B veterinary sector events across the USA, Europe and the APAC region. He is also Non-Executive Director at Recruit4vets – a leading veterinary recruitment agency, and on the Advisory Board of YLD – one of London’s fastest growing software engineering and design consultancies, working with brands such as The Economist, the Trainline, Condé Nast and British Gas

Nick Lloyd

After qualifying at Bristol University, I joined a mixed practice in Devon in 2002, becoming a partner 2004. I moved away from practice in 2018 and I am now involving in testing clinical software for IVC Evidensia. Clinically my interests still are dermatology and client communication. During my limited time away from work and SPVS, my interests are sailing, dancing and hockey, and spending time with my growing family. Within SPVS my main role as been as chair of the Vet XML Consortium, working to improve the transfer of data between practice and industry.

Jack Peploe, Vet IT Services

Jack is a serial tech entrepreneur and certified ethical hacker. He is CEO of the enviz Group: a fast-developing technology group, which includes an award-winning service provider for the Veterinary sector. The only specialist technology firm in the UK specifically serving the veterinary industry and recognised by tier 1 vendors such as Microsoft. He has 15+ years of experience working directly with vets, helping to strategically solve their technology woes, and delivering expert IT services specifically tailored to the industry.

Andrew Rastall, Connected Vet

Andrew Rastall founded Connected Vet in 2013 to provide digital marketing consultancy for independent veterinary practices. His presentations draw on over 28 years’ experience in PR & digital marketing. They often reference his work with 150 or so independent veterinary clients as well as complementary experience from other industries, that have lots to teach the teams that run veterinary practices. Andrew regularly presents in person and through live webinars, most recently on chatbots, digital marketing strategy and data compliance


Peter Renwick, MA Vet MB DVOphthal MRCVS – Plexi Software

Peter qualified as a vet from Cambridge in 1980. Following an internship at Glasgow Vet School, he worked at the central hospital at Goddard Vet Group for 9 years, then joined the Royal Veterinary College’s ophthalmology department, subsequently gaining the RCVS Diploma in Ophthalmology. In 1992, Peter co-founded Willows Referral Service with RCVS Orthopaedic Specialist, Malcolm McKee. Willows was one of the first private referral practices in the UK, and it went on to become a multi-disciplinary specialist centre of international repute, with over 130 staff. The practice was acquired by Sovereign Capital in 2014, leading to the formation of the Linnaeus Group. Peter was a non-executive director of Linnaeus until mid-2018. Peter is a co-founder and director of Plexi Software. Plexi is a cloud-based, veterinary inpatient scheduling, workflow and communications application which helps practices to go paperless and optimise their inpatient care.


Alan Robinson – MRCVS, Vet Dynamics

Alan Robinson has been a veterinary surgeon in practice for 20+ years, a successful business consultant for 18 years to over 600 practices and a director of Vet Dynamics. His mission is helping independent practice owners improve performance and quality of life in practice.
“I believe most practice owners are working much too hard, for far too long and for much too little reward, because of inefficiency, frustration and poor profitability"

Susie Samuel

After working as a vet for several years Susie was struck by how difficult it can be for pet owners to decide how urgently they need to call a vet, especially in the middle of the night, when their pet is showing signs of being unwell. Given a pet can’t tell you what’s wrong sometimes it can be difficult to work out how serious their symptoms are. Susie wanted to provide a professional resource for concerned pet owners that would help them to decide whether their pet needed veterinary attention, and would provide them with vital first aid advice that was customised for their pet’s situation. Susie is a small animal vet, with a particular interest in small animal medicine. She works in a practice near Fareham and has a very lively terrier called Freddie.

Ruth Serlin, B Vet Med Cert VA PGCAP FHEA MRCVS

Ruth qualified as a vet from the RVC and spent 25 years in small animal primary care. She has worked mainly for the charity sector and private emergency clinics, including teaching veterinary and veterinary nursing students in the late 90’s at the RVC. She joined the RVC again in 2009 and has latterly become the lead for teaching communication skills. Fascinated by ‘talk in action’, Ruth is studying for an MA in Applied Linguistics to help make sense of the interactions that occur in veterinary practices and beyond. Ever the charity vet, Ruth has kept her interests current by being on the committee for the Association of Charity Vets up to 2019 and has been involved with Streetvet from its inception. ‘You present your professional self through your everyday communication’

Nuala Summerfield
BSc, BVM&S, MRCVS, DipACVIM (Cardiology), DipECVIM-CA (Cardiology)

Nuala graduated from the University of Edinburgh and completed a residency in Veterinary Cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. In 2002, she obtained her Diploma in Veterinary Cardiology, after which she spent 15 years working as a specialist Cardiologist in both academia and private practice. During this time, Nuala recognised the need to improve access to specialist knowledge and support for first opinion vets wanting to do more for their patients in-house. Seeing the opportunity to do this through a real-time, collaborative and educational telemedicine platform, Nuala founded Virtual Veterinary Specialists (VVS) in 2017. VVS is now working with an increasing number of forward-thinking, ambitious practices throughout the UK and beyond. Through these close collaborations, VVS is bringing specialist healthcare delivery directly to vets and their patients in their own practices, thus helping them to deliver exceptional veterinary care with improved patient outcomes.

Jo Woodnutt, MRCVS, VetHelpDirect

After graduating from the University of Nottingham, Jo went on to work in small animal practice for three years before diversifying. As well as writing veterinary content for blogs and magazines, she also worked for large telemedicine company Vet-AI, running video consultations with members of the public. She now works for VetHelpDirect behind the scenes of their new telemedicine platform, developing best-practice teleconsultation guidelines and helping practices to get to grips with this exciting new service.

Focus on our Digital Future 2020 is kindly sponsored by: