The importance of consistent vaccine protocols in your veterinary practice
Do you know what your doctors recommend? Are clients confused? Heres how I guarantee everyone is on the same page.
When I first joined Animal Health Services as practice manager, I immediately noticed the lack of protocols for vaccines amongst the six doctors on staff. One doctor recommended a three-year vaccine, and another said every year. One doctor even recommended no vaccines at all. The practice charged me with helping to correct this major issue.
A whole team approach
As you might imagine, talking to each doctor individually about vaccine protocols ruffled some feathers. Everyone had an opinion about a protocol, but no two opinions were the same. After I gathered information as to what protocols each doctor was recommending, I was ready to have a big “family talk.” I presented my findings to all of the doctors as a group. We discussed the fact that we were confusing clients who might see different veterinarians at different appointments. We weren't following the manufacturers' recommendations in giving vaccines. Worst of all, some clients were only getting reminders from the practice every three years. The protocol disagreement wasn't just bad for business-it was bad for patients. A lot can go wrong in three years.
After getting the doctors to agree that we needed to fix this issue, we started on the tough job of crafting a uniform protocol. My senior veterinarians were the most difficult because, as we all know, old school vets can be set in their ways. Voices were raised on more than one occasion during these discussions. I finally gathered the discussed protocols, put them all together into one cohesive protocol and presented the document at a meeting two weeks later to get input. It wound up taking six months, but we did it.
Hard work paid off
Developing this protocol was definitely a challenge, but a challenge we all understood we needed to face. I've always said you can put 10 veterinarians in a room and get 10 different opinions on a case. The most important thing for me was to convince them that this process was going to help provide better medicine for patients and better service for clients.
The unexpected bonus of all this work was, we established a blueprint to solve other major problems in the hospital. We used the same approach on such issues as therapeutic diets to recommend, heartworm preventives to carry, etc. It also helped us learn to work together and to understand and respect each other on a deeper level.
I would strongly recommend that practice owners and practice managers take a look at their practice's protocols. Are your doctors and team sending a consistent message? Are you providing a high level of service while also providing a high level of preventive care? Does everyone follow the same hospital protocols? If not, I challenge you to correct it. This is how we did it.
Rob Graham, CVT is practice manager at Animal Health Services in Cave Creek, Ariz.