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Maintaining Veterinary Service in a Curbside World: 3 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience

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As colder temperatures arrive with cold and flu season, curbside veterinary service is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Contactless concierge the new norm as pet owners and veterinary practices adjust to COVID-19.

By now, you’ve handled PPE, social distancing, sanitation procedures, and contactless payment systems. Safety and compliance with CDC guidelines mean adapting and adjusting your policies and procedures, often on the fly, as the veterinary market barrels toward digitization and struggles to meet demand. With so many changes, how do you maintain great patient experiences with less interactions?

Below, we have outlined a few ways you can take your client service to the next level, maintain a strong patient experience, and improve profitability all while providing curbside or socially distanced care.  

3 Ways to Maintain a Good Patient Experience from a Distance

1. Embrace Telehealth

Just as you are looking to provide a full suite of services to maintain revenue, pet owners are looking for different service models—both of which are made even more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue providing annual checkups, routine procedures, and wellness visits with telehealth, hybrid, and on-demand care to meet your clients where they are: online.

Many pet owners today avoid a visit to the vet and turn to the internet to research signs and symptoms of potential illnesses. We know that’s a risky method of patient care. Help your clients avoid that trap by offering a virtual visit through video. Not only can you visually assess the animal’s condition and behavior, but you can also have a 1:1 real-time conversation with the owner.

Hybrid appointments combine a virtual visit with a short, in-person visit, ideal for those who just brought home a puppy or kitten. Owners and vets can consult via phone or video and the pet arrives on site the next day for a quick exam and vaccinations. Hybrid appointments are also great for post-operation care, where vet staff can demonstrate wound dressings and answer questions about pain management and their pet’s recovery process. This method may bypass the owner having to enter the practice at all.

Texting and web-based chat can be employed to stay close and accessible to your clients. Just being there to answer a general question helps you provide value and connection. As you evaluate which telehealth options work best for you, be sure to review AVMA’s policy on telemedicine , especially the VCPR, for appropriate, legal telemedicine practices.with

Interested in telemedicine but concerned about the legalities? Learn how to establish a VCPR.

2. Strengthen Client Relationships

It’s been a stressful year to say the least. So much has changed, including sharp increases in remote work, massive layoffs, career changes, and parents leaving the workforce. Pet sales and adoptions continue to skyrocket as people spend more time at home, putting increased demand on veterinary services.

During all the uncertainty, veterinary practices have an opportunity to strengthen relationships with pet owners by increasing levels of communication. Whether via phone calls, emails, text, check-ins, and video chats, vets can proactively support new pet owners, those who feel uncomfortable bringing their animal to the clinic, and those who are concerned about puppy socialization or post-pandemic separation anxiety. Here are two simple ways to increase your outreach:

  • Increase social media activity by posting pet care tips, articles, vaccination reminders, recent drug developments, and office news. Encourage your clients to connect with you—just be sure to monitor for messages sent to you through the platform.
  • Provide different points of contact within the practice. Involving your techs, admin staff, and/or boarding professionals helps owners feel confident, boosts staff morale, and may even head off a health or behavior issue. Send an e-newsletter or post a short video highlighting different staff members as a means of introduction.

3. Reinforce safe medication habits with home delivery

Online sales and home delivery of pet medications is a very competitive space, especially now. Clients may be tempted to purchase pet medications from retail giants or internet veterinary pharmacies based on the price alone. They may not be aware that these medications are not subject to FDA approval, leaving their pet open to cross contamination or unrecognized generic solutions that can cause severe side effects. Prescription drugs purchased from unreliable third-party resellers can be expired, recalled, or even counterfeit. Despite heavy competition from ‘big box’ stores, establishing a home prescription delivery program can assure your client that they are giving their pet the best care possible.

Educating yourself, your staff, and your clients on 503B manufactured drugs can help ensure patients get the safest treatment, every time. Although many state regulations are still unclear about office use and administration, you do have options when it comes to medication ordering.  Learn how you and your clients can make sure you’re getting an Epicur 503B medication each time.

We know you’re navigating a lot of change while maintaining your standard of care. For more tips on how you and your staff can provide the best curbside and in-office visit…

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