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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58 Today's Veterinary Business Merchandising Merchandising DERMATOLOGY In light of the plethora of shampoos, conditioners, food ad- ditives, brushes, combs, spray-ons and topicals that line the shelves of pet stores and the shopping carts of online retailers, a veter- inary professional is competing not only with colleagues but also with amateur "veterinarians" — the pet owner and the sales clerk who think they know how to diagnose and treat skin conditions. Your vocabulary word for today: cyberchondria. Wikipedia defines it as "a growing concern among many health care practi- tioners as [clients] can now re- search any and all symptoms of a rare disease, illness or condition, and manifest a state of medical anxiety." It touches all aspects of the veterinary profession and all aspects of the client experience. Whether clients research a pet's symptoms and arrive with a litany of obtuse diseases or whether they pull out a iPhone in the exam room and second-guess your diagnosis, some pet owners want to control the experience completely with or without accurate information. More and more frequently, pa- tient care is being delayed or com- promised because the consumer wants to look for a deal. Shopping for the best price (not necessarily the best product) has become an American pastime. And anytime a veterinary product is prescribed, it is fair game for purchase from a multitude of outlets. The Skinny on Skin After you have done skin scrap- ings, fungal cultures, impression smears or biopsies, you will have more information to help you understand what is going on with a patient's skin. Whether you have a confirmed or suspected diagnosis, it is time to treat the problem or, in many cases, the symptoms. Treatments of choice for allergic or other skin conditions most fre- quently include one of a number of prescription and non-prescription approaches, including: • Antibiotics. • Injectable medications. • New-era dermatologic medi- cations such as Apoquel, Atopica and Cytopoint. • Anti-inflammatories. • Antihistamines. • Topicals. • Antifungals. • Shampoos. • Essential fatty acids. • Food additives. • Therapeutic diets. Given the prevalence of online suppliers of prescription meds and brick-and-mortar sellers of Numbers tell a story, so think about these facts: • More than half of all pets are overweight. • 85 percent of all pets over age 3 have some level of dental disease. • 100 percent of pets have skin and therefore face the risk of a dermatologic disease. Keep some skin in the game Your dermatologic recommendations and products might be only scratching the surface. Client education, stocking the right items and other approaches can make a big difference. By Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA non-prescription meds, how can a veterinarian keep control of der- matological treatment options and not lose them to the competition? Systems or Checklists Having systems in place to ensure you do a thorough workup and diagnostic testing on skin cases is a good idea. Because of the vast number of causes of pruritus and pyoderma, it behooves you to have a diagnosis or short list of rule-outs before you start treatment. A clearly defined system and associated checklists helps you remember what needs to get done. You might be asked to treat only the symptom because "That's what good ol' Doc Dolittle did. He'd give her a shot and she'd be right as rain that night." Your challenge is to explain to the pet owner the benefits of mak- ing a correct diagnosis and then treating appropriately. Why is the diagnosis so im- portant? Skin conditions are often long-term problems with some seasonality or chronicity. Clients get frustrated when the symptoms

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