Well to-do: How team members tackle client compliance with preventive care
Wellness care might not be the sexiest set of services your practice offers, but it's the backbone of most veterinary practices. After all, a solid wellness program keeps both pets and the bottom line healthy. And you play a major role in the program's success, even if you don't have a role in setting your practice's wellness care protocol. "Doctors have to agree on the protocol and then help educate team members and monitor it, but team members are crucial in driving it," says Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, president of Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals in Michigan. Since your practice can't do it without you, here are four ways you can contribute to improving wellness care.
1. Get trained
Clients won't comply with your recommended wellness care if you and your team members aren't clear on the program. Pet owners and team members alike get confused if a veterinarian says certain services are important, for example, and then a veterinary assistant says they're not. So be sure you're in the know by asking whether your practice has a wellness care protocol in place. Then go a step further and ask whether the team—veterinarians included—consistently follows it, advises Dr. Rothstein. (This is especially important if your practice has several doctors on staff.)A good time to pose these questions is during your practice's regularly scheduled team meetings. To really get the discussion going, follow up with specific queries like these: "Do we all know what vaccines we're recommending, and when?" and "Do we a get stool sample from every pet?" Be sure your practice's written protocol covers the items you talk about and is easy to follow. If you don't have a written protocol, recording the responses to these questions is a smart place to start. This way, you and your team members can refer back to the document and ensure everyone gives clients a consistent message.
To get fully educated about wellness care and the preventive products that go along with it, your practice should take advantage of the knowledge possessed by sales representatives from vendor companies, says Peggy Bentley, LVT, practice manager of the Whittaker Road Animal Clinic in Ypsilanti, Mich. She often invites these sales reps to her practice's monthly staff meetings for "lunch 'n' learn" presentations. "It educates us and helps us market the products, so the information flows off the tongue a little more easily when we're talking to clients," she says. "We're more informed and comfortable in explaining the products that we recommend."
Why is all this training important? "The more the entire staff understands what we do and why we're doing it, the more committed they are," says Dr. Stephanie Romm, owner of Blue Sky Animal Clinic in Loveland, Colo. And the more committed you are, the more likely it is that you'll be able to keep pets healthy through excellent patient care and topnotch client education and service. At Blue Sky's monthly meetings, team members are asked for their input regarding wellness care. They also discuss compliance statistics as a team. And when the clinic schedules training sessions with veterinary specialists, everyone from receptionists to technicians are included. This gets team members excited and provides them talking points so they're comfortable educating clients about recommendations.