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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26 Today's Veterinary Business Business Business APPOINTMENTS For starters, stop calling them rechecks. Better expressions are "progress exams" or "follow-up visits." In the client's eyes, "recheck" might imply something that is optional or unimportant. If you offer progress exams at no charge because you feel the cost is offset by the other procedures per- formed, then the client will equate the free follow-up visit with some- thing irrelevant. The words and the tone you use are extremely important to convey the importance of follow- ing your instructions. You can't say that Kiki "should" come back or that you would "like" to see Kiki or that it would be "nice" if the owner brought Kiki back. Be firm. You need to be your patient's best advocate. Say, "We need to see Kiki for a splint change once per week." Then, clearly explain why the weekly schedule is so important to prevent pressure sores. (See "Horror Stories, Chapter 1.") Make the recheck part of your explanation of the treatment plan. Convey that it is just as critical as the medications you send home or the bandage you place. Part of clients' reluctance to return for progress exams is they don't under- stand the value. Plan Ahead Situations when follow-up visits should be considered include: • To ensure the proper healing of wounds and surgical sites. • To evaluate the efficacy of physical therapy. • To help new veterinarians gain experience with the response to different treatment protocols. • To build client relationships. • To present clients with educa- tional opportunities. • To make sure instructions were understood, especially when the client seems indif- ferent or confused. • To confirm that medications are being administered cor- rectly at home. • To socialize patients so they are less stressed during future visits. Getting clients to comply with your follow-up protocol is an even bigger challenge when they have to pay a fee every time. Some practices have found success in pre-charging for these visits. The benefit is that most clients will return because they do not want to waste money since the payment has been made. The Clients generally hate paying for rechecks after a medical procedure. They think they have paid (too much) already and that your time, staff and supplies should be free from here on out. Conveying the importance of rechecks to clients can be difficult. The veterinary profession has no universal guidelines for when they are needed, whether to charge for them, how and when to charge for them, or how to persuade clients to return to the hospital as recommended. By Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ The art and science of follow-ups What you call a return visit and how you charge for it are up to you, but its importance needs to be clearly communicated to the client.

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