Dont blind yourself to otitis

January 9, 2018
Roger Zinn, CVPM

Its not just another ear case! Your veterinary practice team could be short-changing medical protocols and client bonding by speeding through common appointments.

Otitis is a small problem ... and a big problem. It's an easy condition to just glance at, but there is legitimate medicine to offer and revenue to be gained nestled hiding in this common condition. ( often we find ourselves in veterinary medicine falling into our own little routines throughout the day from patient to patient. We see the same ailments over and over, and mostly offer the same recommendations in therapies. So, what if I told you there was a way to increase your average transaction just by offering some services around some of these routine things you already see?

Take, for example, a dog with an ear infection. Commonly, these patients come in, are evaluated by the veterinarian, and then are sent home with some type of otic medication to treat the infection. But what if we upped our recommendation by adding a few key services and therapies that most veterinary hospitals can offer, starting with cytology?

An ear cytology is used to determine the source of the infection, even though commonly veterinarians know it's going to be yeast or bacteria. It's an inexpensive diagnostic tool you can offer to clients with minimal cost to you, helping to confirm the veterinarian's diagnosis.

Diagnostic testing like this opens the opportunity to educate clients. A therapeutic ear cleaning is a great way to use your support team and to move products off your shelves. Ask one of your veterinary team members to demonstrate proper ear cleaning techniques with your client, and then send home the cleanser used. Next, a team member can help administer the first dose to the patient in the exam room to ensure proper application of the product. This is a great way to actively involve all parties in the treatment of the pet's care and to ensure client compliance.

More than a glance

A visit for otitis can be more than just an exam and medications. Look at these potential earnings based on averages:

The basics

• Office exam $45

• Otic medication $24

   Average sale $69


The better

• Ear cytology $28

• Ear cleaning $20

• Ear cleanser $18

• Laser therapy $35 per single treatment

• Pain medications: $30

• Recheck exam $35                   

  Potential average earnings: $166

The final step is to make sure you have a proper follow-up plan in place. Scheduling a recheck appointment based on the doctor's recommendation is important, because it provides us with the opportunity to confirm the infection has resolved or to change the course of therapy when needed. There are a variety of alternatives in treating some of the most routine things that we can incorporate into our daily practices. In this case, you can add services like cytology, ear cleaning and cleansers-even therapeutic laser therapy for inflammation or medicines for the discomfort.

Even some of your most basic cases offer you a chance to better use team members as well as offer better medicine and services.

This year, approach some of your routine diagnoses and see whether your hospital is missing the chance to soothe pain, verify a shaky diagnosis or better treat a condition. This is about using what you have and bonding with your client by educating them and offering solid recommendations within your hospital, even if it's “just” an ear infection.

Roger Zinn, CVPM, is ER Administrator and partner at Animal ER of Northwest Houston.