Put out an APB: All poo bulletin
Its a crime to let parasite education be boring or ineffective. Use these tips to spotlight arresting information to help pet owners offer their pets the best care.
Pick a topic. What do you want to make clients aware of? Heartworm, Lyme disease, arthritis, preventive care? Because our wellness fecal compliance numbers were lacking, I decided to highlight intestinal parasites. Many pet owners don't want to acknowledge that their pet may be susceptible to or (God forbid) positive for such horrible creatures. If you can't see them, they're not there, right? Wrong. Here's a step-by-step guide of how we boosted client compliance.
1. Make a plan
How are you going to track your results? You can go old school and use a dry erase board or bulletin board in your treatment/lab area where technicians and doctors make note of each test run and positive diagnosis. Because we are a paperless practice, I'm able to use our practice software to run reports of how many tests were run and how many positive diagnoses charted within a given date range.
2. Make it personal (but fun)
Because clients often ignore reminder postcards and half-hearted verbal recommendations from team members, you've got to step out of your fecal comfort zone and shake things up a little. We know regular fecal testing is important to a pet's overall health. To help get that point across to our clients, I used a Most Wanted theme, pointing out that intestinal parasites are real criminals and are showing up in their neighborhoods. Each of our top most wanted parasites has its own poster that includes photos and symptoms. (Get your own free copies at dvm360.com/Wanted.) While it takes some extra time to track results to a zip code, clients have responded to the maps and lists of positive sightings. Many have asked which particular parasites we've found in their specific area.
3. Make it consistent
To make your campaign a successful one, all team members must provide a consistent message. Our reception team has been more proactive by reminding clients to bring stool samples to appointments, particularly those pets who have never been tested or whose reminders are years overdue. We also tell clients who board or are considering boarding their pet at our facility that we require a negative fecal test before boarding. Technicians are entering the proper test codes into the practice software. Doctors are entering positive diagnoses into patient records and following up with clients about deworming and the need for regular testing. The whole poo campaign is tied together with the maps and posters and caution tape on the bulletin boards in the waiting room.
4. A win for everyone
In January 2015, our practice performed 202 fecal tests. That's compared to just 140 in 2014. Was it the consistent message from the veterinary team, the boarding requirement or the caution tape in the waiting room that increased client compliance? We may never know. But the best medicine covers all the basics, including those unglamorous, unsightly, smelly things like stool samples.
Jennifer Graham is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and the client services team leader at Bradford Hills Veterinary Hospital in Wexford, Pennsylvania.