Choose a team approach to parasite problems

Don’t flee from parasite conversations. From check-in to check-out, Dr. Karen Felsted ticks off the opportunities for client education at every stage of veterinary appointments.
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Aug 24, 2014

Dr. Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, spoke to a crowded session at CVC Kansas City about communicating the importance of flea and tick preventives during the dvm360 toolkit session, “Fleas and ticks: Tools for preaching preventives to the pet owning choir.” In 2013, just 34 percent of dogs and 22 percent of cats were given flea and tick preventives that were purchased from a veterinary practice, according to the Merial Pet Owner Experience Study. Products are available inexpensively from other sources, and pet owners don’t understand the value of flea and tick control, which threatens the veterinary pharmacy business. How do practices take steps to improve compliance and keep client’s purchases at your clinic? Communication is a big part of it, and the whole team needs to be involved, Dr. Felsted says.

>Talk to clients. Don’t just assume that the conversations are happening. Review the number of recommendations per visit for active patients, and use exam room audits or medical record audits. Set up a system to make sure that every client gets information so your message doesn’t slip through the cracks. For example, Dr. Felsted recommends the receptionist start the appointment with a flea questionnaire. Then the technician can initiate the flea and tick preventive conversation. And finally the veterinarian will review the data and make a product recommendation.

Use communication effectively. Pet owners are seven times more likely to accept a recommendation if it’s presented clearly and they can understand it. Use words that make sense to clients and emphasize the importance of preventives. Tell a story or client anecdote. Personal experience is an effective hook. For example, Dr. Felsted found fleas on her indoor-only cat that she had tracked in herself. And use visual aids. Make flea presence local with a map from CAPC or pull out a jar of fleas and flea dirt.

Deal with skeptical clients: Fleas can jump and are everywhere outdoors. Ask about where the dog or cat goes beyond walks. Do they visit dog parks or do other animals come to visit the client’s home? Fleas can be tracked in by other people or animals. It helps to know your stuff, so use resources from dvm360.com or CAPC and what you’ve learned at CE sessions to reinforce your point.

Just remember, unless your practice reinforces how important preventives are clients won’t take the recommendation seriously. Leverage each team member and offer stellar client service, Dr. Felsted says.