Keeping track of pain control is not a pain!

April 26, 2016
Kathryn Primm, DVM
Kathryn Primm, DVM

Kathryn Primm, DVM, owns Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, Tennessee, but has a growing career as a writer, a speaker and an online voice for veterinarians and pet owners alike.

At least it doesnt have to be. Let your practice software help!

Pam the veterinary practice manager is sad, but Dr. Kathryn Primm is going to show her how PAM (see what we did there?) can provide a structure for her to improve her client reminders about pain control medication reminders and more. (Illustration Getty Images)Diagnosing pain sometimes is the easy part. Making sure that clients understand and comply can be the hard part. Practice owners and managers, you can jump-start this right now (or, y'know, in the near future). Associates, get to lobbying for your bosses to do the right thing! You know, be a PAIN.

Here are my three easy tips to make communication and compliance easier. Just like the cooking spray, PAM makes compliance less sticky:

P is for Plan and Protocol

Use select diagnosis codes on any pet with a diagnosis (such as osteoarthritis) that could require pain control. Those codes will “flag” the chart and make pets searchable for future interactions about refills, rebates or special pricing.

People power!

On top of practice software tips, here are two people tweaks that help pain guru Robin Downing, DVM, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CCRP, owner of Windsor Veterinary Clinic and The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, Colorado, keep her pained pets in primo condition:

> Review prescribed medications and feeding at each and every visit. “This doesn't take very long,” Dr. Downing says, “and it's accomplished by my veterinary nurse before I enter the exam room.”

> When pain is involved, when a patient needs to be seen again, schedule the next appointment before the client leaves the building. “My team schedules the next appointment before the transaction is complete,” Dr. Downing says.

A is for Automatic

Set up a hospital-wide monitoring protocol. Use your reminder system to automatically (automatically-don't just make a bunch of work for receptionists!) generate postcards and emails for clients without staff action. For example, if your hospital recommends blood work every six months for all pets receiving pain medication, reminders could go out automatically so that treated pets stay safe and their pain is managed.

M is for Medication reminders

Use your software to add notes to follow up with clients when they administer particular drugs in your inventory that you know have a potential to be long-term. Contact your software company for specifics, but most of them have an easy way to perform this task. Then follow up with phone calls by veterinarians or staff. These calls are one-on-one opportunities to reinforce the importance of ongoing pain control. Make sure that everyone doing the calls knows the specifics of pain control medication and monitoring and is on the same page. (This probably starts with a staff-wide meeting.)

Don't beat up on yourself if clients question you the first-or the first 10 times-you advocate for pain control. Sometimes clients need to hear their pets are experiencing pain more than once and need time to decide to do something. They will be more likely to think it ‘s important if you think it's important enough to follow up on.

Kathryn Primm, DVM, owns and practices at Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, Tennessee, and is the author of Tennessee Tails: Pets and Their People.