Forms to unfreeze relations with specialists, emergency vets

September 25, 2017
Elaina Boudreau

Veterinary practice managers and team members also benefit from more friendly, more informative referrals to and from emergency and specialists and the general practitioners who manage patients through their lives. Compassion-First Pet Hospitals hired liaisons and built a process to inform referring general practice veterinarians when patients visit, how they're doing and what happened.

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When a general practice veterinarian refers a patient to a specialty hospital, clear communication is crucial. Many specialty hospitals use a “travel sheet” to keep referring veterinarians (rDVMs) informed.

Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, a Compassion-First Pet Hospital in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, took the travel sheet a step further by creating a special process, the brainchild of director of referral relations at Compassion-First, Karen Widero, to share patient information on a daily basis.

“Regular updates between the hospital and the rDVM are an opportunity to build personal relationships between the veterinarians,” Widero says. The rDVM needs to know, without delay, exactly what occurs at the hospital so they can ensure the patient's treatment and follow-up care stay on course.

The referral process starts at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital's front desk. When a client arrives with their pet, the patient's general practice veterinarian receives immediate notification (click here for a PDF of the "Notification of patient visit"). The rDVM is told the nature of the visit and receives a comprehensive report at the end of the patient's treatment. If the patient is admitted to the hospital, the daily reports continue - including details about the patient's treatment and food and water intake (click here for a PDF of the "Referral report").

“It's based on the SOAP method (subjective, objective, assessment and plan),” Widero says. Red Bank Veterinary Hospital sends the daily letter via whatever method the rDVM prefers. But whether it's via fax, email or an online doctor portal, the letter doesn't take the place of a personal phone call. Widero says that call usually occurs after the patient's visit and/or when the patient is admitted to the hospital in an emergency. And when the patient is discharged, a final report goes to the rDVM (click here for a PDF of the "Notification of patient discharge").

“We share the discharge instructions we've given to the client, so the rDVM knows how the client has been instructed to care for their pet following their hospital treatment,” Widero says. Compassion-First Pet Hospitals also have a team of "referral relations liaisons" who keep the lines of communication open among hospitals and rDVMs throughout the United States. These liaisons also offer rDVMs CE opportunities, lunch-and-learns and roundtable discussions.

“Nothing takes the place of having two doctors working together to ensure the outcome for the patient is the best it can possibly be, and that's our goal,” Widero says.