Accreditation, compliance pack AAHA leader's agenda


Link Welborn, DVM, who grew up on a farm alongside horses, dogs, goats and peacocks to name a few, is seeking the acceptance of his veterinarian peers.

Link Welborn, DVM, who grew up on a farm alongside horses, dogs, goats and peacocks to name a few, is seeking the acceptance of his veterinarian peers.

Not for him personally, but for the benefit of the American Animal HospitalAssociation (AAHA), which is about to unveil its practice accreditationstandards.

The incoming president of AAHA for 2003-2004, described as caring, pragmaticand dedicated, says he can't help but get excited about the recently overhauledaccreditation standards.

"The development and implementation of the new AAHA Practice AccreditationStandards has the potential to improve the quality of care for thousandsof patients, clients and practices...," says Welborn, who currentlypractices at three clinics in Tampa.

Since 1998, Welborn spent time on the accreditation program taskforceresponsible for the standards. He says his hope is that accredited practicesaren't the only ones to share his enthusiasm about the comprehensive revisedstandards.

"Since virtually any practice now has access to the new standards,I believe many more practices will consider practice accreditation."

But the release of the standards is only the beginning of a dedicatedprocess.

"There's a difference between producing standards and implementingthem, then subsequently using those standards," says Welborn, a diplomateof the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

Other agendas

Second on Welborn's horizon is ensuring that the results from a forthcomingAAHA client compliance project are transformed into actions in practice.

The enormous undertaking gathered feedback from veterinary staff of numerouspractices nationwide, as well as their pet owner clientele to determinethe level of client compliance with healthcare recommendations within animalhospitals. The project incorporates industry data into its findings.

"We need to raise awareness that client compliance is not reallyas good as what people believe it to be off the cuff," says Welborn."Clearly healthcare recommendations are of no benefit unless clientscomply with or follow through on (them)."

AAHA has found that most practices don't measure compliance.

Welborn notes, "If you go to practices and ask (about) the clientcompliance with heartworm preventative or recommendations with senior care,the vast majority of practices will only be able to tell you their gut feelingas opposed to any real meaningful data. In almost every case, they overestimate."

When the project is completed, Welborn says he plans to direct the associationto develop tools for practices to be more effective in achieving high compliance.The project, which is being funded by an educational grant from Hill's PetNutrition, is scheduled for completion by the annual meeting in Phoenix,March 22-26.

A final educational initiative evolving during Welborn's term is what'scalled "Driving Excellence in Veterinary Practice," a truck tourthat will travel to national veterinary meetings and veterinary schools.

His credentials

Welborn, a 1982 University of Florida graduate, is co-owner of NorthBay Animal & Bird Hospital, Temple Terrace Animal & Bird Hospital,and The Cat Doctors. He says that had he not become a veterinarian, he would'vechosen to be an obstetrician because, "participating in the joy ofchildbirth from a medical perspective seems like the next best thing."

His AAHA involvement spans numerous committees, including leadership,canine vaccine guidelines, audit and control and bylaws. He is currentlya trustee of the AAHA Foundation.

Beyond veterinary medicine his interests include scuba diving, dabblingin the stock market, football - he's a self-proclaimed diehard fan of theWorld Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and family time. Welborn and his wife,Laura, have one daughter-Kaitlin.

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