Study up: How to answer clients' tough questions


New book tells pet owners to ask medical questions at your practice.

If you like answering informed questions that expose the high level of patient care at your medical practice, you're in luck. Your clients may be showing up in the exam room or calling to find out if your practice has what it takes to treat their beloved pet. Dr. Louise Murray, director of medicine at the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City, has written Vet Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Protecting Your Pet's Health (Ballantine Books, 2008). Among the consumer-friendly medical information inside, Dr. Murray provides questions that pet owners can ask to evaluate a practice along with the reasons why the answers are important. Some of the questions, Dr. Murray says, can be answered over the phone by a staff member; others can be answered during an appointment.

Bob Levoy

Don't let you or your staff be caught off guard if a potential client calls and asks any of the following questions or the others recommended in the book:

Overnight care. How do you handle overnight care for your patients? Is there an overnight employee? If so, is she monitoring the patients continuously or does she stop by periodically? Is the overnight employee either a veterinarian or credentialed technician?

Anesthesia. What gas anesthetics does your practice use? Is an intravenous catheter placed before anesthetic procedures? Are patients intubated during anesthesia?

Monitoring. Do you have equipment to measure blood pressure? Do you have a PCV centrifuge to measure patients' red blood cell levels? What about measuring patients' oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter? Do you use an automatic processor to develop radiography films, or do you use digital radiography?

Action step: If your team members can already handle questions like those, put the answers on your Web site and talk about them during hospital tours. If not, schedule a meeting to discuss how to best answer them.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker and writer based in Roslyn, N.Y. His newest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).

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