Today's Veterinary Business

OCT 2018

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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Page 53 of 67

52 Today's Veterinary Business Leadership A study conducted by the ana- lytics firm VetSuccess uncovered in- teresting and somewhat disturbing information. VetSuccess determined after examining data from 300 U.S. veterinary hospitals that a large percentage of patients fell into the geriatric category. The disturbing part was this: Of the geriatric pets euthanized in the practice, over 70 percent had not been seen by their veterinarian within the last year of life. The figures were 77 per- cent of cats and 70 percent of dogs. Geriatric vs. Senior We can, and should, work to reverse this situation. If we were lucky enough to know patients throughout their lives, we owe it to them and those who love them to provide continuous care in the last phase of life. Patients over age 7 generally fall into the senior category. Does this mean all patients over 7 are geriatric? Not necessarily. Senior is an age, while geriatric is more of a condition. When defined as a pa- tient in the last 10 per- cent of its life expectan- cy, "senior" could apply to a 9-year-old mastiff or a 15-year-old poodle. Age is only a number. The veterinary team has a criti- cal role in managing older patients and communicating with the clients to ensure that needs are addressed. Some needs might be subtle and others quite noticeable. We should see these patients more frequently, so what's important is to seize every opportunity to work with their owners to address life changes. Use a Patient Care Model Many practices have developed patient care models (PCMs) to address and resolve specific age-related conditions. It's an established approach within the hospital to treat a defined condition based on the best medical options. In addition, wellness plans can combine recommended services in a way that makes them affordable for the client. When we have these programs in place and administer them properly, we don't lose the connection as the pet ages. By Sandy Walsh, RVT, CVPM I have yet to meet a veterinary professional who doesn't love meeting puppies and kittens for the first time. It's a joyous occasion for the team and pet owner and the beginning of what hopefully will be a lifelong relationship. Developing these relationships early on is essential. Regardless of whether the patient comes to us as a youngster or adult, we are now the client's trusted resource for the life of the pet. This is a great position to be in, and the veterinary nurse is a key player in the partnership. The most effective wellness plans are those developed with both the client's and patient's needs taken into consideration. They should be comprehensive yet flexible so that they are easily un- derstood and easily administered. As you develop your practice's PCMs, you build wellness plans around them to address the level of care. The whole team plays a role in developing and administering the plans and patient care standards, so proper and complete training is essential. The message must be consistent no matter whom the cli- ent interacts with at your hospital. These plans typically include unlimited exams, lifestyle-based immunizations, bloodwork, radio- graphs, dental procedures, prod- ucts and other diagnostics. The more often we see these patients and clients, the stronger the rela- tionship will be. Consider adding in extras like regular toenail trims, anal gland expressions and other age-related comfort options. Leadership GETTING TECHNICAL Gray matters Veterinary nurses can help clients address age-related issues in an older pet and make appropriate health care decisions. Quite often, geriatric patients are experiencing pain, decreased mobility, cognitive disorders, hearing and sight loss, irregular eliminations or incontinence, and appetite or dietary issues. Continued on Page 54

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