Pinning down veterinary preventive preferences


Q: Our doctors are all over the place with their parasite preventive recommendations. How do we fix it?

Clients pick up on obvious disagreement among doctors, which may be detrimental to the hospital's reputation as a whole because it sends the message that the veterinarians can't decide what's best for their pets, says Dr. Ross Clark, founder of Woodland West PetCare Centers in Tulsa, Okla., co-founder of National PetCare Centers and Veterinary Economics’ Practice Management Editor.

"It could be embarrassing if clients are listening in on conversations between a doctor and another client and they get a different recommendation," says Dr. Clark. "But of course, some variation is OK because veterinarians like to practice their own style of medicine. Harmonious variety of practice styles is a beautiful thing."

First, consider the variety of products you carry and why. Some practices carry multiple lines because of pets' varied needs (a great reason) and differences in opinion among the associates working there (not a great reason).

"From the practice owner’s standpoint, there's legitimate concern for the additional cost of carrying multiple lines of products in order to nullify emotional and legitimate concerns of associate DVMs," says Dr. Clark. “On the other hand, associate DVMs don't want to feel like they're overly constrained in their medical decision making."

Choosing how much is too much depends in part on the size of your practice and the number of clients who buy regularly from you. But who's in charge of consolidating product inventory?

"At first glance, it appears the owner or chief of staff should decide what products to carry in the best interest of the pets, the clients, staff and investors," says Dr. Clark.

Here's a good place to start: Pinpoint employees' concerns with specific items. If the flea or tick preventive list is less than five products, you might eliminate any that doctors have serious qualms about then ask everyone to vote on their favorite products. Those with the most votes would become the products of choice.

Other practices might simply want to give clients a number of choices. While it's good to offer pet owners different options, keep in mind that too many could unnecessarily complicate decisions for them.

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