7 Time-Saving Tips for Veterinary Wellness Appointments

Wellness appointments are crucial to your veterinary business. But as important as these visits are, you likely have difficulty striking a balance between comprehensive patient care and client education—while also staying on schedule. The good news is that you can save time in the exam room without cutting corners.

7 Ways to Save Time at Your Practice

Check out these time-saving tips to maximize wellness appointment efficiency and efficacy without overwhelming your team.

  Elevate patient care without overwhelming staff. Learn how.​​​

1. Employ Smart Scheduling

Although every veterinary practice experiences a certain level of unpredictability, the daily workflow hinges on sensible scheduling. Booking a wellness visit is rather straightforward, but other inefficiently scheduled appointments can chip away at your team's preventive care routine—potentially causing a rushed experience for the wellness exam client and pet, as well as missed patient care and revenue opportunities.

Customer service representatives (CSRs) should be trained to book uncomplicated appointments together as a block; schedule technician appointments when appropriate; recognize time-sensitive conditions; preserve time slots for urgent care, drop-off, or emergent patients; and schedule sick pet appointments as early in the day as possible.

2. Train Your Team in Low-Stress Handling Techniques

Anxious or fearful pets can not only reduce exam room efficiency but can also put your team at risk if they need to be calmed or restrained. With this in mind, train your team in low-stress handling techniques that identify, prevent, and reduce pet anxiety. Some of those techniques are as follows:

  • Ask clients about their pets' veterinary anxiety during scheduling and make a note.

  • Be on alert for signs of nervous body language, and move stressed pets directly to the exam room.

  • Talk with the veterinarian about prescribing pre-visit pharmaceuticals for patients with established anxiety.

  • Schedule nervous pet appointments during quieter times.

  • Schedule necessary wellness services as several shorter visits.

  • Try alternative handling or distraction techniques to improve patient compliance and reduce stress.

You might also add pheromone diffusers to the exam room along with pet-friendly amenities, such as toys, treats, and a comfortable high-traction surface.

3. Communicate Clearly

Clear and direct communication can eliminate chronic time wasters, such as duplicated tasks and overlapping responsibilities among team members. This is particularly important when it comes to clients, as repetitive questioning and inconsistent messaging can appear unprofessional and lower their confidence in your team. In an effort to create a cohesive client and patient experience, address the areas in communication that might be challenging. You might, for example, advise team members to do the following:

  • Document declined services in the medical record.

  • Flag discussion topics that require technician or veterinarian follow-up during the visit.

  • Establish boundaries to prevent unnecessary overlap in duties and positions.

  • Provide clients with an itemized treatment plan—a financial estimate—to prevent confusion or misunderstanding.

You might also review existing forms and documentation to check for overlap, repetition, or superfluous items. Improvements in form design may also help clarify communication.

4. Simplify Your Wellness Plans

Wellness plans offer a huge time-saving advantage. However, complex plans that include numerous customization options or tiers can confuse clients and be difficult to explain. When creating wellness plans, focus on core items for each species and stage of life. For example, your adult canine wellness plan may include an annual wellness exam, core vaccines, and wellness diagnostics (i.e., complete blood count, chemistry profile, and parasite testing). You can also offer extras, such as optional vaccines and a dental cleaning, but keep the options simple. Straightforward wellness plans are easy to present, saving your team time and effort. Team members can communicate with confidence and expertise, thereby improving client compliance, trust, and peace of mind about their pet's care.

5. Delegate Appropriately

Reconsidering who does what and when can enhance efficiency in the practice as a whole. For example, have technicians and assistants gather diagnostic samples, perform adjunctive care tasks (e.g., nail trims, anal sac expression, etc.), and begin running relevant tests before the veterinarian enters the room. A reassessment may also reveal training opportunities to expand what you can delegate to whom. Start by asking your team members which skills are in and out of their comfort zone. On the basis of these conversations, arrange continuing education, in-house training, or mentorships to level up or expand skills. Or, you might personally train CSRs, for example, to review or educate clients about annual updates, wellness packages, and parasite prevention.

6. Dictate Exam Findings in Real Time

When veterinarians dictate exam findings during the appointment, a technician or assistant can transcribe the information directly in the medical record. This simple protocol can save veterinarians many charting hours, help team members anticipate patient care needs, and provide clients with unique insights into their pet's health. In addition to exam findings, team members should note any important discussion topics, client recommendations, declined services, and follow-up needs. To ensure consistent data input and avoid omissions, use exam report templates.

7. Harness The Power of Technology

Chances are, your team is not making full use of your practice technology—including your practice management software, apps, website, online pharmacy, and diagnostic equipment. Your practice may have time-saving technology that's not being used simply because no one knows it's there or understands the options. If this is the case, talk to your reps, sign up for training demos, or check out free tutorials to uncover powerful technological hacks and learn how to make full use of your practice's technology.

A Stitch in Time

Most likely, saving significant amounts of time at your practice requires a range of small tweaks instead of wholesale changes. This means that improvement in time management can be achieved easily and incrementally, without the need for huge investments. Identifying small ways to enhance your wellness appointment workflow and implementing time-saving tips can transform your day-to-day operations, and ensure preventive care patients receive the time and focus they deserve.

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Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at sarahrumple.com.

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