How to Better Cover Preventive Care Recommendations in the Exam Room

Your veterinary practice is likely busy as always, and you may feel strapped for time during wellness or new patient exams. Explaining each preventive care service during a 15- to 20-minute appointment slot can be difficult. Within this short window, clients may decline recommendations if they do not understand their importance, or they may want additional time to mull over services they believe may be unnecessary.

However, by optimizing each client interaction, you can encourage clients to agree to your recommended preventive care protocols. Effective communication is key. Here are a few ways you can maximize your time in the exam room.

Plan for New Pet Visits in Advance

Rather than asking a client to bring their pet's medical history and wellness care due dates, you can save time reviewing these documents by requesting the records before a patient's first visit. If your practice uses electronic medical records, ensure your veterinary technicians review new patient records as they arrive and scan the information into the system, including services coming due, earlier diagnoses, and relevant alerts.

Before a patient's first visit, the veterinarian can then review the pet's health history and medical care. Pet owners will feel more comfortable accepting your recommendations when you base them on their furry pal's specific needs.

Encourage Preventive Care Through Educational Materials

Provide pamphlets or posters about wellness services, such as vaccines, heartworm treatment, or senior pet blood panels, for clients to browse while they wait in the lobby and exam room. In addition, consider having your client care team play informational videos on wall-mounted computer screens or TV monitors that provide pet wellness facts.

Doing so will pique client interest and provide a preview of your effective protocols, which will prepare them to listen to your recommendations and hopefully make them more likely to say yes to any needed services.

Multitask During Pet Wellness Exams

Each veterinary wellness visit begins with an exam, but you may be wasting valuable time if you wait until the end of the appointment to discuss your findings. If you fail to point out their pet's problems as you identify them, clients don't see the abnormalities or a need for prevention.

For example, you can discuss dental care by drawing the client's attention to their pet's tartar or gingivitis, recommend ear cleanings while pointing out a patient's waxy buildup, and show clients how to assess their four-legged pal's body weight. By discussing exam findings with a client as you examine their pet, you can use the remaining appointment time to recommend additional preventive care options.

Assign Appropriate Tasks to Credentialed Veterinary Team Members

Credentialed veterinary technicians are well-versed in preventive care protocols and are a practice's best resource to provide time-saving client education. Before the veterinarian enters the exam room, technicians can review patient charts to check for overdue services, provide monetary estimates for specific services, and obtain client permission to perform a recommended service.

Keep in mind that clients don't always retain information after the first explanation, so those who hesitate may need multiple reminders during their visit, starting with the veterinary technician or customer service representative, with reiteration from the veterinarian. Before a client leaves your practice, technicians can provide informational handouts, answer questions, and offer follow-up care instructions. In addition, technicians can reach out to clients with next-day phone calls to check on pets and answer any lingering client questions.

Adjust Your Schedule as Needed

If appointments are consistently behind schedule despite adequate staffing and seemingly efficient appointment flow, you may need to adjust the veterinarians' schedules. Ask all team members which appointment types derail the day, and consider allowing longer time slots for those visits.

New-patient, puppy, kitten, and some sick visits can take more time and team resources, so consider allocating an additional 15 minutes for these appointment types. Allowing more time for more involved visits can help keep the schedule on track, which builds client trust and increases their loyalty to your veterinary practice.

Adding more time to your day is impossible, but you can optimize the time you spend with clients with these time-saving tips. Pet owners will be more likely to agree to their pet's recommended preventive care services when you assign appropriate team members to explain the services, become familiar with a patient's health history and current needs before their exam, have various team members repeatedly recommend specific services, and provide educational resources.

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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

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