• Tracy Kamens

6 WAYS YOUR PRACTICE CAN SURVIVE COVID-19


Veterinary hospitals have been declared essential businesses. However, there is the very real inevitability that we will need to concentrate on what message are you sending out to your clients. What are the most important preventative healthcare measures their pets need? How do they know if their pet “need” to be seen? Can you provide the information/diagnosis and advice via telemedicine/video consults instead? Therefore, as you adjust plans day by day, it is also important look at things you can to do ensure your practice survives during these unprecedented times. Here are six strategies you should implement now:

1. PROVIDE CAR PARK/ NO CONTACT DROP OFF SERVICE.

To maintain the highest level of social distancing, keep clients and employees safe, lock your doors to all but essential staff and restrict pet owners from entering your building.

When clients call to book appointments, explain the process: Please call us from your car when you arrive for your pet’s appointment, we will ask you questions about your pet and to explain the services we will deliver. Then a veterinary nurse will meet you at, either the designated drop off area, or at your car. We will then take your pet inside the hospital and perform care while you wait in your car. If you would like to be part of the consultation we can call you while we are examining your pet as well through our video consultation process. Or the vet will call you on your mobile to explain exam findings, treatments, and medications once the exam has been completed. One of our team will phone you will review the fees over the phone and get your credit-card information for payment. The veterinary nurse will bring your pet, medications, and paid receipt to you in our car park. We appreciate your trust in allowing us to care for your pet and have a safe environment for everyone.

2. CREATE AN ONLINE MEDICATION REFILL AND OTC ORDER FORM (VETCHECK has them as part of their functionality)

Clients will need to refill meds, buy food, buy preventatives etc. You can’t afford to miss this recurring revenue. In addition to car park pickup of foods and medications, talk with your website provider about setting up and promoting your online ordering option. If you already have some online forms, now is the time to promote them. Send email and/or text to clients, share social media posts, update on-hold messages, and tell every caller.

If you have the capacity set up it would also be great to set up a delivery service. You can also create reminders in the system for when the pet will be due again for their next supply of products. This situation is not going to end quickly so the more reminders we have in our system the better off we will be for keeping pets healthy in the future. This also goes for your other services – such as reminders for the senior exams, heartworm prevention, cartrophen and cytopoint injections and other services. It could be a great task for several of your work from home staff – take a specific reminder – do outbound calls with any pets overdue and look to update reminder notices so that there is at least 2 more reminders past when you normally send them – for instance adding a post 3 month and 6 month reminder for vaccinations – you may even want to add, “Spot” is now a year overdue” as if they don’t get their vaccinations done during this “crisis” the pets reminder may fall off the system completely.

An over-the-counter flea/tick product also could be set up on auto reminders. When one dose remains, you would alert the client via text, app, or email: “Your next box of <brand name> to protect your pet from fleas and ticks is due you can either collect or we can deliver it to your door” please let us know which you would prefer.

3. OFFER TELEMEDICINE/VIDEO CONSULT SERVICES.

Decide on what platform is going to work best for your practice. If you need help decided to get in touch, we can discuss the pros and cons of several on offer. Ideally you are looking for live video consultations with a messaging tool that allows pictures, videos, and other attachments will let you share information back and forth with clients. Some telemedicine apps integrate with practice-management software for medical record-keeping and invoicing. You can use telehealth for initial consultations (as long as you have seen the pet in the last 12 months) as well as follow-up care.

Define types of cases you can see using telemedicine- ask us for recommendations if you are not sure where to start or refer to our resources page for more information.

Besides helping you see patients virtually during the COVID-19 crisis, telemedicine lets you fix low compliance for follow-up exams and post-surgical assessments. The AVA as well as all state surgeons’ boards have updated their policy guidelines so be sure to refer to them when setting up your policies and procedures.

4. AUDIT YOUR REMINDERS AND YOUR INVENTORY

As we briefly mentioned above, make a list of every vaccine, medication, diagnostic test, and treatment that needs to be repeated. Let’s say your practice recommends blood tests for dogs on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) every six months. Send a reminder one month before the test is due so the client has ample time to schedule an appointment. You’ll also prevent the confrontational conversation when a receptionist has to tell the client her dog’s NSAID can’t be refilled until the test is done. Likewise, send reminders for senior pets that get early detection screens, blood pressure checks, and other recurring diagnostics

When you send medication refill reminders, you’ll eliminate the frustration of last-minute calls from clients who wait until the last pill is gone. Refill reminders can be app notices, emails, or texts that link to your online order form.

Have you been meaning to rationalise your product ranges? Now is the time. Do you really need 2 spots on treatments that do the “same thing”. When was the last time you audited your food sales? How many varieties do you order less than 3 times a year, yet they still take up shelf space? How many NSAIDs or ear treatments do you stock? If you want help all we need is your last 12 months purchasing data from your wholesaler. Give us a day or two and we can come back to you with some cost savings solutions.

5. INCREASE CALLBACKS.

Electronic medical records make it easy to search patients by diagnostic codes. Check the exam and diagnostic status of patients with your top 10 chronic health problems such as arthritis, cardiomyopathy, allergies, diabetes, and others.

Let’s say your standard of care is to see diabetic patients every three months to monitor glucose levels, check weight loss or gain, and assess overall health. Run a report on diabetic patients, sorting by the date of the last visit.

Have receptionists call clients with diabetic patients that have not been seen in longer than three months. Explain, “Dr. <Name> asked me to call you about <pet name>. He/she noticed that <pet name> is overdue for an exam and blood test to monitor glucose levels so we may manage your pet’s diabetes. Dr. <Name> can see <pet name> on Monday at 11 a.m. or Thursday at 4 p.m. Which do you prefer?” Lead the client to schedule with the yes-or-yes technique, which gets stronger compliance than the yes-or-no choice of “Do you want to schedule an appointment?”

COVID-19 is an opportunity for your veterinary practice to examine the way you serve clients and patients.

6. MEASURE BENCHMARKS AND METRICS

Now more than ever the importance of creating a metrics dashboard is paramount. In order for you to know how you are weathering the storm you need to know where the business was at last year at this time and how things are stacking up on a weekly basis this year. Get in touch if you would like to get a copy of our COVID-19 Balanced Scorecard where we assess 16 key areas of your business to compare year on year.

APL Accountants also have a very simple spreadsheet to help you determine cash flow and if you will be able to afford all of your staff on their current wages.

The initiatives you start today will help you get through this crisis and establish ongoing revenue streams. Use this pandemic as a reason to work “on” your business rather than just “in” your business.

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