Preventive Care Communication: How Each Team Member Plays a Role
A successful veterinary practice operates like any team sport—every team member has a role and everybody supports each other in order to win. Whether it's the Super Bowl or a healthy pet, every victory requires coordination and a team effort. This is especially true when it comes to preventive care. The ultimate goal is a healthy, protected patient and this requires every team member to work together to deliver the desired outcome.
One important way to make sure pets receive the preventive care they need is to repeatedly communicate the importance of this care to the client. This requires the team to work together to share the same message in different ways so that the client understands the importance of the message and takes action. Here's how each team member plays a role in communicating around preventive care.
Before the entire team gets involved, veterinarians and technicians must determine the standard of care for their practice. These standards might include what the practice believes is optimal wellness or routine testing, and defined guidelines for how to treat conditions.
These standards help the entire team stay on track. At the end of a patient's visit, the doctor can come in and perform the physical examination, answer questions the client may have and simply reinforce the care team recommendations, or adjust based on exam findings or the individual needs of the pet or client to support a positive relationship. Depending on the practice, the doctor may also share post-exam results with the pet owner.
The Management Team
Training, oversight, and accountability are the primary responsibilities of the leadership team when it comes to preventive care and communicating its importance to clients.
The practice manager uses the protocols and standards of care the veterinarian puts in place to help organize and direct the team as a whole in order to achieve the optimal delivery of wellness care. Their role includes scheduling and organizing training, signing off on the development of skills for team members, and then monitoring the success of the conversation as reflected in the profitability of the practice. Practice managers also monitor the commitment and engagement of a team that has been empowered to impact patient care.
With the services identified and the timing determined by the standards of care, the manager and the veterinarian can train the team on the messages that need to be delivered and then assign each team member a role. Everyone on the team needs to know the message and be consistent in its delivery. Scripts, handouts, and role-playing are tools the practice manager can use to help the team with their communication.
Client Service Representatives
Client education starts with client service representatives (CSRs). Clients typically need to hear the same message multiple times before they act, and CSRs have a chance to start the education process early on. This is not about selling a service, it's about teaching the client about the importance of wellness testing or other services that are beneficial to the pet and their owner in the long run.
Prior to visits, the client service team can communicate with clients via email or text messages. At the time of arrival, CSRs should then communicate that wellness care will be discussed with the client in the exam room. They can also address any missing care needs and educate the client on other wellness parameters.
Additionally, the client service team is often the last contact with the practice that the client has—this is another opportunity to reinforce preventive care needs or congratulate the client on the care they provide for their pet as well as book for any future needs.
After the client's appointment, CSRs can continue to offer education to the client on preventive care with emails, texts, or postcards. This ongoing outreach lets the client know the practice cares about them and their pets long after they leave the exam room.
Veterinary Technician or Nurse
In the exam room, the technician or nurse will discuss the practice's standards of care. They should help the pet owner understand what is needed, why the services are important, and when the services should be completed.
This conversation will reiterate what has previously been sent or discussed with the CSRs, address the pet owner questions, and will set the veterinarian up as the final voice of preventive care needs.
The Role of the Team in Veterinary Preventive Care Communication
Without standards, training, and consistency, clients may not hear wellness care conversations as important or relevant to them and their pets. But if everyone is on the same page, the team can show the client their commitment and deliver the same message across the board in order to establish its importance. This is why training and rehearsing are paramount to creating a winning conversation.
When each team member is responsible for sharing information on preventive care, it takes the pressure off a single individual and helps ensure clients understand the importance of the topic. It also builds trust by showing the client that everyone on the team is part of their support group. With trust in the team, compliance increases, improving outcomes for the client, their pet, and the practice.