Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

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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12 Today's Veterinary Business Business Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk Almost every veterinary hospital employee has a pet. What's also common is that employee pets don't get the same level of care ad- vocated for clients. Here's a chance to provide your staff with the same level of care you want them to communicate to clients. So, clean the staff member's pet's teeth. But, you ask, who's going to pay for it? Consider it a continu- ing education expense. Your staff member is treated just like a client and experiences what the client goes through. The outcome is pets with clean teeth and well-educat- ed staff members who can now tell a client that their pet got a teeth cleaning and what the procedure entails. How can you expect your staff to educate and advocate if their pets aren't given the same opportunity? So, you do one cleaning and your team member schedules 10 dental cleanings in the next 12 months. Monitor What You Measure Entering the dental grade into the medical record is step one. Step two is to use your practice information management system to track the grades. Create codes for dental disease grades 1, 2, 3 and 4. As you create an invoice, enter the dental disease code. Now, you can track and search based on the codes, which allows you to use educational marketing to inform clients about the significance of dental disease in their pets' lives. Show and Tell Every time you have a client and patient together, show the owner how to look in the pet's mouth. Not just at the incisors, but all the way back to the molars. Point out red gums, brown teeth, receding gum- lines and root exposure. Everybody on the team can do this because they were trained. Note: Non-DVMs are not making a diagnosis; they are simply showing the client the obvious. Every staff member can review medical records and talk about the progression of dental disease. Great educational handouts are available, or you can make leaflets showing and explaining dental grades. Show the mouth, show the handout and then tell the client that the doctor will discuss the topic further. Reward Early Intervention We visit our dentist and hygienist twice a year. Early dental disease in our patients requires a similar approach. It should include ra- diographs, cleaning, polishing, a fluoride treatment, toothbrush and toothpaste, recommended chews or treats, and a scheduled follow-up visit. With a well-trained team and licensed nurses, the veterinarian's involvement is minimal. (Check your state's practice act regulations.) Your pricing for early-grade dental disease procedures should reflect your costs, staff costs, equip- ment costs, anesthetic costs, etc. Subsequently, grades one and two dental disease should call for basic well care and be priced as such. Cover your costs and make some profit, but reward your clients for the early intervention. I include radiographs in early-grade dental disease because: • The more radiographs you take, the better you become at taking them. • They provide a baseline for future comparison. • You might find pathology you didn't know existed. • The standard of care is head- ing in that direction. Grade 3 or 4 dental disease is not well care. It is pathology, it is sick care, it is oral surgery, and it should be billed as such. There is complexity and risk with these pa- tients. Antibiotics and pain medica- tions not routinely needed in early dental disease might be necessary. These cases also raise the likelihood of extractions, and they routinely involve the veterinarian to a signif- icant degree. Such cases take more time and should cost more. By encouraging clients to take on dental disease early, you will save them money and their pet's pain and disease. Promote All for One and One for All The opportunities with dental disease are the epitome of team- work and require everybody to work for the good of the pet. This starts with messaging from own- ership and management that the veterinary practice believes dental disease is relevant. Staff education progresses into client education, patient care and follow-up. Finally, staff members are recognized and rewarded for their combined effort. Set Your GPS If you don't know where you are, you don't know where you can go or how great you can be. Take a look at the number of dental procedures you've done in the last 12 months. Do you know which were grades one or two? Look at the percentage of your gross revenue that came from dental procedures. Do you know which cases involved grades one or two? If most of your dental procedures fit the oral surgery cate- gory, you have a wide-open oppor- tunity for basic dental care. Anyhow, these are your starting points. From here, you can go anywhere. Try simple goal setting, such as 10 percent more dental procedures a month. Or think about this: If a DVM sees 20 patients throughout the day and 85 percent of all pets have dental disease of some level, that means 17 patients are potential candidates for a dental procedure. Can you schedule one of the 17 pa- tients for a procedure? That would mean scheduling, on average, 20 to 25 dental procedures per full-time equivalent doctor each month. If you are already doing 20 to 25 monthly dental procedures per full-time-equivalent DVM, wonder- ful. If not, why not? If your percentage of revenue from dental procedures is 3 per- cent — $30,000 in a million-dollar practice — what is needed to go to 4 percent or higher? With the help of your team, what is a reasonable number of dental procedures that could be performed each month? That is your final GPS setting. What is needed to take you from where you are to where you want to be? If the "tooth" hurts, do some- thing about it. The opportunity is there, so go for it. Dr. Peter Weinstein owns PAW Consulting and is executive director of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. Business DENTAL CARE 2 Every time you have a client and patient together, show the owner how to look in the pet's mouth. Not just at the incisors, but all the way back to the molars. Point out red gums, brown teeth, receding gumlines and root exposure. 3 6 5 4 7

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