Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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27 December 2017/January 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM A variety of visual tools used in veterinary medicine can help clients better understand medical conditions and treatment rec- ommendations. Use a visual aid — chart, graph, diagram, picture, brochure or video — during every appointment to augment auditory messages. Go through your hospital's drawers and files to gather all your client educa- tion tools. Decide which ones are current, relevant and aligned with your medical standards. Then start using them. Here are other steps to improve client education for visual learners: • Be sure to show clients their dog's bad teeth or their kitten's ear mites. Don't miss the opportunity to display the medical equipment used during exams. For example, show clients the completed SNAP test and the Tono-Pen or Doppler used on the pet. • Use the body condition score chart when discussing obesity and weight management. • When a patient has periodon- tal disease, show images of the teeth before and after a dental cleaning. • Use graphs to show trends in a pet's lab values, and routine- ly email lab results to clients. • Draw pictures when explain- ing congestive heart failure or orthopedic surgery. • Have clients watch videos, such as instructions for how to pill a cat or brush a dog's teeth. • Give written instructions to augment auditory education. • Use tablet computers to show images or where to find credible information on recommended websites. Kinesthetic Learning Preference Kinesthetic learners prefer a hands-on approach. They like to be involved with physical movement or want to touch and feel an object. Here are ideas for modifying client education with kinesthetic learners: • Let pet owners feel any lumps you find. Let them listen if you detect a heart murmur. • Let clients practice after you demon- strate how to brush teeth, give subcutaneous fluids or adminis- ter an insulin injection. • Encourage clients to set up and use recommended apps, your online store or pet portals while they are at your practice. In my experience, most prac- tice teams think they do a good job with client education — and they do — but they rely mostly on verbal messages and the passive handing out of brochures. Teams that consistently combine verbal communication, educational tools and technology to help clients understand and retain information will attain higher compliance rates. Here is my challenge for your hospital: Implement a plan to accommodate multiple learning preferences during exam room communications so your team can help clients make decisions that are right for their family and that get pets the care they deserve. Since the best client education system is one that accommodates different learning preferences and is engaging for the pet owner, start by making sure your team understands common ways that people like to learn. Then commit to specific action steps to improve client education. Auditory Learning Preference People with an auditory preference learn best by listening to informa- tion. Don't assume that just be- cause you talk to every client that you've achieved the best learning environment for the pet owner. Auditory learners like discussion and may find it helpful to repeat what they've heard. To improve client education among auditory learners: • Provide statistics and details about the pet's medical con- dition as well as care options. Make sure the "why" has been established for treatment recommendations. • Don't make assumptions about the client's knowledge. Ask open-ended questions such as "Tell me what you know about Lyme disease in dogs." This allows the team to tailor client education for each pet owner. • Encourage clients to repeat the pet care instructions they are given. • Tell a story about another patient to help clients under- stand their pet's prognosis. • Recommend podcasts, train- ing CDs and support groups, if appropriate. Visual Learning Preference You may have heard the phrase "A picture paints a thousand words." The expression means pictures often convey information more effectively than words alone. Visual learners like to see pictures, graphs and charts to better understand and retain information. People who learn pre- dominantly with their eyes are more sensitive to the educator's nonverbal communication. This means your body language needs to be positive and match the verbal messages. Talk the Talk columnist Dr. Amanda L. Donnelly is a speaker, business consultant and second- generation veterinarian. She is the author of "101 Practice Management Questions Answered" and serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. 5 online marketing musts How healthy is your hospital's online marketing? Do you have a daily protocol to make sure you're following best practices for attracting and retaining clients? Pam Foster offers a handy checklist that your team can use to assess your marketing prowess. Learn more at www.todaysveterinarybusiness.com/category/communication. ONLINE EXCLUSIVE Don't assume that just because you talk to every client that you've achieved the best learning environment for the pet owner. Auditory learners like discussion and may find it helpful to repeat what they've heard.

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