How to Use Your Entire Veterinary Practice Team to Improve Compliance
Veterinarians examine patients, make the diagnosis, and recommend treatment for many pets every day, but clients don’t always follow through with the recommendations. This frustrating and very common problem requires a team effort from your practice if you want better client compliance.
The whole staff is responsible for reinforcing treatment. Everyone from the associates to the receptionists and assistants need to tell the client how important the recommended care is for their beloved pet.
But They Have Already Been Told and Won’t Listen…
These are a few steps you can use to help improve client compliance. Thedoctorschannel.com shows three main steps that gets your practice team working together toward this common goal.
1. Consensus: Everyone in the practice must understand the treatment options and know which decision is best for the patient. Once that decision is made, each person can begin getting the client to comply with that recommendation, which includes vaccination options, frequency of visits, and screenings.
For example, let's say that some of your practice staff members believe that clients only need to give their dogs or cats medicine when there are fleas present, but others believe that it should be used preventively (veterinarybusiness.dvm360.com). It is the veterinarian's job to make the recommendations for her patients that she believes are best. But it is also important for her to make sure that her staff is in agreement and aware of those directives, in order to keep the message to the clients. Clients will be confused if a veterinarians makes a recommendation to use preventative flea and tick medication, if the receptionist tells them in passing that he only uses these medications during certain times of the year on his own pets.
2. Communication training with staff: Without your staff standing by your decisions and reinforcing them, your clients may not get the message. Tell receptionists that they need to remind clients about follow-up visits through reminder phone calls and emails. Let technicians know when you need to run blood tests and screenings so that they are prepared to approach the client and do those tests at the correct visits. Do not only tell your client why their dog or cat must be treated, but explain why.
For example, let's say a client brings in her dog and it has fleas, even though you recommended that the dog stay on flea medication for prevention purposes. The client didn’t follow-through, so the veterinarian then needs to explain the message again. When the client leaves, the receptionist needs to schedule a follow-up visit and send reminders. A follow-up phone call from the associate or technician later that day should address any questions the client may have and reinforce the idea that this treatment is necessary.
3. Consistency: Keep a consistent treatment plan and make sure your staff sticks with the plan to help encourage compliance with clients. Just because your staff kept up with this for a few weeks and clients seemed more understanding of treatments doesn’t mean that it can’t change. Be consistent. Use follow-up phone calls and visits as a constant reminder to the client. Go over a checklist of needed treatments and have your staff call or email when a necessary test approaches.Keep a record of these communications in the patient's folder.
For example, let's say your client keeps up with the flea medication according to your recommendations, but now the dog is due for a heartworm test. This is your chance to explain why the heartworm test is so important. The technician can explain how quickly the test will go, provide the client with educational handouts, and make a follow-up phone call later to explain again. Before the client leaves, the receptionist should urge them to make the next appointment for as soon as possible.
Compliance is a team effort. Working together may not always guarantee perfect compliance, but it can greatly improve the situation. Give it a try in your practice and see what really makes a difference.