Team up for healthier pets

Team up for healthier pets

Every veterinary team member has a hand in safeguarding pets' health.

Your veterinarian is much like the fabled little red hen. Just as the hen wanted help to plant, grow, and harvest the wheat to bake the bread, your doctor needs your help to educate pet owners about diagnostics and prepare them for the tests their pets so desperately need. Every member of your practice has an important role in diagnostics. Before you say, "Not I," consider these recommendations for tasks each team member can tackle to make sure pets get the tests the doctor recommends.

Receptionists: Reach out

You're literally on the hook for this, because you're on the phone with clients every day to remind them about their pets' upcoming appointments. This is the perfect time to set the stage and prepare clients by presenting the idea that the veterinarian may run tests during their visit.

"Receptionists play an introductory role in discussing diagnostics with clients," says Ciera Sallese, CVT, a technician at Metzger Animal Hospital in State College, Pa. "They help remind owners that while their pet is due for an exam and vaccinations, they might also be due for tests, from fecal exams and retrovirus screenings to medication-monitoring blood work."

Dr. Fred Metzger, DABVP, owner of Metzger Animal Hospital, agrees that front office team members play a huge role that starts on the phone. For example, say Mrs. Johnson calls because her dog Princess is sick. The receptionist might say, "Mrs. Johnson, I'm so sorry Princess isn't feeling well. Dr. Cares may want to get a urine sample, so try not to let Princess urinate outside. Dr. Cares may also want to do some blood work."

This prepares the client to expect diagnostics at the appointment, Dr. Metzger says. And it works just as well when you're calling to remind clients about their preventive care visits. In fact, if you're calling the day before the visit, you can offer more detailed instructions that may provide clearer results for the diagnostics the veterinarian recommends. This might include asking the client to withhold the pet's food after midnight so the veterinarian can take a fasting blood sample.

"This is already letting the client know that we're not just going to give a shot, we're going to be doing some blood work," Dr. Metzger says.

Receptionists also play a key role with client communication by sending reminder postcards or emails to increase compliance with routine testing, Sallese says.