Improving Veterinary Client Compliance Through Technology
Wow. Amazing advances are improving veterinary client compliance through technology. I’ve been around long enough to remember 5-by-8-inch cards for patient records, X-ray developer tanks, and three to seven days for lab results. While I may swear at my computer when it is being unruly, I never want to return to those days.
Technological advances have improved so many aspects of the practice: patient care, client communication, medical record keeping, diagnostics, and financial reporting. We can share data and discover emerging trends that elevate patient care and client compliance. Innovations such as applications and telemedicine integrated with our practice management systems will further expand the practice of veterinary medicine. So how can you ensure that technology works for you in your practice?
Elicit Client Compliance with Shared Medical Records
At the heart of everything we do is the patient medical record. Our ability to integrate information into this record and share that information with clients is the crux of compliance. What is client compliance in veterinary practice? I define it as the client’s willingness to engage with us to develop a lifelong care plan for their pet. We have a shared responsibility with our clients to enhance the quality and longevity of their pet’s lives, and technology helps us achieve that mission.
Transparency is crucial to client engagement, and showing clients what we do through an integrated medical record encourages trust in our recommendations. Electronic medical records, digital images, laboratory results, and client information/education handouts are easily shared with clients through email, pet portals, and related applications.
Seeing Is Believing
There are few things in veterinary medicine like the wow factor of X-rays. A client of ours was convinced that her dog’s GI upset was due to some family members feeding it inappropriate foods during a party. Our veterinarian suspected a foreign body, but the client was certain that the dog would not have eaten anything but food. She was amazed to see a clearly outlined baby pacifier on the X-ray.
Digital imaging is a prompt and effective way to capture client interest and create a shared experience. We can take crystal-clear images to review with the client in the exam room or treatment area, and work with them to understand concerns about their pet. They can take those images home to share with other family members. This transparency builds trust.
Behold, the Power of the Portal
Technology lets us partner with clients in many ways. But pet portals and integrated applications, which allow clients to access their pet’s health history, foster trust. Pet portals and related applications allow the client to have all of their information openly shared in one place. Few general practices are open 24/7, and the client may need to visit an emergency hospital. We are not in clinic to transfer those records, but with a portal, the client can access an accurate record of the pet’s recent care to give to the clinician. This information can be critical for the emergency hospital team to design a successful treatment plan. We can verify that they have accurate information so that they needn’t rely on a rattled and worried client’s memory.
Pet portals also engage our clients directly. For instance, a client transferred to our practice and told us that she would be seeing an outside specialist for any procedures that her precious pet family needed — even for fairly routine events. One of her pups developed a growth on its leg that needed to be removed, so we took X-rays and ran laboratory panels. These results were shared with the client both in the exam room and to her pet portal. She came in the next day to pick up medication and asked to schedule the surgery with us. Surprised, I asked her why. She said that the ability to see and understand what we do helped her feel comfortable entrusting her pets to our care. Our transparency and engagement established that bond — and technology let us demonstrate our skills and knowledge in a very concrete way.
Exploit Multiple Channels
We can strengthen bonds with our clients by offering multiple channels to connect with us regarding their pets’ care. Technology lets us communicate with clients via their preferred channels; we can use email, text messages, direct messages through applications, social media direct messages, newsletters, the phone, and reminder postcards! We can have touch points with clients throughout the year rather than relying on a 20-minute appointment and two postcards to develop a relationship. These technological advances mean we can schedule appointments, send reminders, share records, refill prescriptions, and communicate efficiently for the practice as well. Open communication also helps us reinforce a lifelong preventive care approach and further boost client compliance. We can deliver a consistent message of partnership in care for our clients and patients.
Ultimately, the best advances in technology are the ones that help us demonstrate our care, because seeing is believing for our clients. Trust is the elixir that develops lifetime bonds with our clients and leads to healthier pets. That is the driving force for future technology in veterinary medicine — improving veterinary client compliance through technology that helps clients, patients, and practices.