Sync up your veterinary team

June 8, 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.

Here are five simple reasons I see better outcomes and happier clients when everyone in my veterinary hospital offers estimates and treatment plans every time.

Consistent protocols and an estimate every time is NOT about conformity for conformity's sake. It's about offering a clear message to better educate pet owners about what medical care is really necessary ... no matter who shows up in the exam room or answers their phone call. (Photo Getty Images)1. We're all are on the same page

Premade estimates in your practice software -- with names like "GI workup" -- ensure that every doctor recommends the same workup for every patient and keeps up your practice's continuity of care. If you're seeing another doctor's patient, you already know how the case was likely started and have a good idea of where it should go.

2. We offer the best medicine to every pet owner

Do you have one doctor who likes to really work up a case with lots of testing, and another who depends mostly on the physical exam and the many similar cases they've seen through the years? If you have a defined, agreed-on way that cases are worked up in your hospital, it's easier for all doctors in the practice to follow up on cases. Then it's up to the clients to decide what they want to skip. You've recommended the best care for everyone and potentially captured revenue from products or services you might never have mentioned because you're afraid the client will balk at the cost.

Most pet owners want to do the best they can for their pets, but if you don't even mention that diagnostics are better medicine, they'll never know.

(Photo Getty Images)3. We get to explain "why"

A printed estimate with itemized treatments gives doctors and team members a forum for explaining and help prioritize each treatment. That way, if the client chooses symptomatic care that day, they know what to expect if they call back. They won't be surprised if the first attempt doesn't resolve the issue, because you've already explained that you wanted to do more.

4. We avoid sticker shock

If you've clearly explained the details of the treatment estimate in the exam room, and the client has walked through all the steps to choose those what they'd like to start with, there's no surprise at check-out. If they elected not to do everything in the estimate, they're aware the outcome may not be optimal and you'll want to do more.

When pet owners have time to digest the importance of your recommendations and to calibrate their expectations, they'll have a better attitude if they do need to come back. A prepared client is more apt to blame bad luck than they are to blame you.

(Photo Getty Images)5. We include clients in the team

The owner is really the most important person to the pet and most integral to the pet's health. You want to help them take into account all the factors involved in each decision. You don't know what people can or can't afford, and if you assume ... well, you know what that does!

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. She was also the nation's first Fear Free certified professional, and her first book, Tennessee Tails: Pets and Their People, received recognition as a runner-up in the "Memoirs" category at a national book festival.