Improve Compliance, Improve Your Bottom Line

July 4, 2018
Adam Christman, DVM, MBA

Creating a culture of compliance within your veterinary practice benefits your patients, clients, staff and bottom line. Here’s how.

Most veterinary professionals agree that well- informed pet parents are integral to a practice’s success. However, regardless of how thorough your conversations are with clients during appointments, a lack of understanding or unasked questions can still lead to low compliance with your recommendations. Much of this disconnect can be traced back to a few factors, such as distractions in the exam room, the growing reliance on “Dr. Google” and not having the primary caregiver present for the appointment.

Ongoing Communication

One way to combat the inevitability of missed or misinterpreted information is to provide clients with professional, practice-branded information related to what you have just recommended. Such take-home information helps ensure that clients understand the importance of your treatment recommendations and are invested in taking the next steps. Remember, a confused client will never comply.


  • 4 Tips to Enhance Client Compliance
  • The Digital Path to Client Education and Compliance

At my practice, our veterinary technicians follow up with clients by phone two days after an appointment to reiterate the recommendations and ask whether the client has any questions or concerns about the visit. Having technicians make these calls allows the veterinarian to take on other tasks. Training your team to take the lead on these calls is paramount to increasing client compliance. Not only does this conversation foster exceptional compliance, but it demonstrates to the client that your team has a vested interest in ensuring the health of their pet.

Lastly, take advantage of your software systems to aid in increasing compliance. For example, many programs can generate personalized report cards for clients to take home with them from appointments. Here you can include recommendations, identify a credible website for additional information and even provide the reasoning behind your suggestions. This offers the opportunity not only to recommend a dental cleaning, for example, but also to describe why the pet needs one.

Utilize the Digital Age

We live in a smartphone-obsessed world, and this reliance on technology can be used to your hospital’s advantage. Consider some of the ways you use digital media to market your team as authorities on pet health care. The more your clients associate your veterinary hospital with simplicity and expertise, the more likely they’ll be to comply with your recommendations for their pets.

One of the most valuable ways to promote your practice and provide beneficial information to clients is through the use of video. Clients love to see their veterinary teams actively engaging through social media, and YouTube is an excellent platform for you to do so. Fun and informative videos encourage team building and are a great way to send a positive message to your clients. They also allow clients who are visual learners to better understand your recommendations.

For example, my YouTube channel includes a video on how ticks can affect pets. My technicians will sometimes play this video in the examination room while clients are waiting for me. There have been countless circumstances when, upon entering the room, pet owners have asked me, “What can I buy right now to prevent those ugly ticks from biting my pet?” Try this and you will see compliance in action and your profits rise.

If your hospital offers a pet portal, market it through your social media channels to remind clients that they can access their pet’s digital records easily. Pet owners want to feel that they have a role in the treatment process, and by involving them, you are more likely to gain their buy-in to proceed with further treatment. For example, if a client has a copy of his dog’s elevated liver values, he can better understand the need for both a bile acid test and an abdominal ultrasound.

Another way to encourage compliance is to use technology to make it easy. If you have an app for your practice, encourage your clients to enable push notifications. This feature will allow you to send appointment reminders as well as alerts about when to administer parasite preventives.

Forward Booking

Booking a patient’s next appointment before the client leaves the current visit improves compliance and ensures that your patients will get the routine care they need. It also increases profit. Dentists have been using this approach successfully for a long time, so most clients are familiar with and see the value in advanced scheduling.

Before instituting a forward booking policy, it’s important to discuss each team member’s role in the appointment scheduling process. Doctors need to communicate and confirm each patient’s next suggested visit. If possible, technicians can book the appointment while the client is in the exam room. Alternatively, the receptionist can schedule the next appointment at checkout.

It’s best to you coach your team on how to make the inter- action natural and easy. Generally, forward booking an appointment involves three steps:

  • Confirm the next suggested visit time and purpose, and let the client know that you would like to go ahead and set that up now.
  • Ask the client which days and times are typically best, and then offer a few viable options.
  • Remind the client that the practice will confirm the appointment in advance and that appointments can be rescheduled if needed.

Goal Setting and Friendly Competition

People are intuitively competitive when they know a goal must be reached. Goal setting for your practice is not only fun and engaging, but it also helps find gaps in your compliance initiatives. If your staff sees value in a product or service, they’ll be more likely to recommend it and help execute your practice’s standards of care.

Common goal setting ideas include increasing parasite screenings, nail trims, anal gland expressions, dental cleanings, wellness screenings, heartworm testing and spays/neuters. I don’t recommend monthly goal setting because a month is not enough to determine success. Instead, quarterly goals serve as a better key performance indicator. In addition, having long-term goals enables your practice to identify whether revenue has increased. Remember, it is crucial to celebrate and reward your team’s successes.

The Bottom Line

Your clients want to do what is right for their beloved pets. Therefore, it’s vital to be specific about your recommendations, explain the reasoning behind them and discuss the potential outcomes. With all this valuable communication comes a greater understanding on the pet owner’s part and thus a higher degree of compliance with your recommendations, not to mention increased revenue for your practice. It’s truly a win-win all around.