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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Page 46 of 71

41 February/March 2019 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM would you trust someone who you believe treats you poorly? The abil- ity of a team to function optimally relies on mutual trust and respect. Environments with unchecked dis- crimination are not respectful and do not engender trust. Open hostility within the team will grow. When dis- criminatory behaviors are allowed to persist, emotions eventually will run high. An individual can emotionally shoulder only so much in an environment that neither supports nor protects them. Medical mistakes will increase. Being subjected to discrimination is correlated with lower self-esteem and self-confi- dence, and this will shape perfor- mance. Often when this happens, the perceived incompetence is not blamed on just the practitioner. In the most toxic environments it might be broadly attributed to a group of individuals "like the practitioner." While the individual certainly shoulders the burden of the medical mistakes, best medi- cine simply cannot be practiced in toxic environments. A loss of clients and rev- enue is likely. If the staff is not working well together and mistakes are being made, clients will go to a clinic that is less dra- ma-filled. If the staff is not happy, no one will be happy. Poor staff interactions will escalate until a loss of talent occurs. Eventually, staff will leave. Working in an environment that allows discrimination to thrive is incompatible with talent reten- tion. And it might not just be your staff of color or your LGBT staff; it might be those team members who identify as allies and are no longer willing to be complicit in a discriminatory environment. What You Can Do In dealing with discrimination, you must take an all-or-nothing Diversity Toolbox columnist Dr. Lisa M. Greenhill is senior director for institutional research and diversity at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. AAVMC's "Diversity & Inclusion" podcasts are available at approach. Otherwise, you will have invested a lot of energy and resources to create a work environ- ment that is a little discriminatory. If you have committed to address- ing discrimination, commit to eradicating it. One of the best things that you can do for your workplace, staff and clients is to have a clear, enforceable non- or anti-discrimi- nation policy. You can find helpful guidelines from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Com- mission at Your policy should articulate that discrimination will not be tol- erated. It should describe the dis- closure process and protections, and outline the consequences of violating the policy. While federal, state and local laws might provide anti-discrimination protections, the policy you and your staff develop is an opportunity to outline how your practice will operate in an inclusive way. The second-best thing to do is to use the policy. Include infor- mation in job-opening notices and during staff onboarding. Post the policy around the workplace, includ- ing in areas visible to clients. Apply the policy consistently to both staff and clients. When an incident arises, apply the policy and take corrective action when necessary. Cultivating an inclusive work environment benefits everyone. It supports teamwork, talent re- tention and the practice of good medicine. At a more personal level, it promotes the health and well-be- ing of everyone in your clinic. It is not just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do. 2 3 4 5 continue to watch as vets and vet med are disconnected. What do clicks look like? Virtual rechecks, texting, email, voice reminders, online chats, video visits, triage, wearables (potentially the biggest disruptor of all). Clicks also include proactively reaching out through call centers that support great pet care and advice, armed with data collect- ed in the EHR. All this performed by veterinary professionals. Ironically, many of these "click" interactions will result in additional brick inter- actions. Our virtual findings will necessitate a physical interaction. The result? Clients get what they want and pets live longer, better lives. A Different Workday So, what's in it for us, the veterinary professional? For one, pets and families benefit. We were, after all, drawn to this line of work to make a difference. Two, the financial well-being of practices that adapt technology is enormous. More pets visiting more often via virtual and physical venues. Third, and perhaps most important given the well-being crisis we face, think about the day in the life of a veterinary professional in a few years. I think it will look something like this: A 40-hour work week might be made up of 25 hours in the hospital, seeing pets and families in the traditional man - ner, and 15 hours broken up to fit your schedule — texting, virtual rechecks, chats, virtual exams, pet dashboard reviews, and coordi- nating all client touches with your veterinary team. All accomplished over a four-day work week, or a few full days and a few part days, or whatever best fits your life needs. The care providers get to work from home, from soccer practice or from Starbucks. It's their choice. One more way to combat burnout. The veterinary team, enabled by technology, will make certain that the pets and clients have all the access and information necessary for the pet's best life. The Future Is Here I have to pause and smile for a moment. I just had my college-age daughter review a draft of this article. She rightly pointed out the irony of this old baby boomer, who routinely asks his kids how to work his iPhone, writing about technol- ogy. Old dog, new trick? It reminds me of a quote attributed to Alan Kay, the computer scientist, educa- tor and TED speaker: "Technology is anything that wasn't around when you were born." Man, there's a lot of technology. Great news! All the modalities discussed above already exist. My WellHaven Pet Health practice is determined to create the future, a bright one for vets, teams, pets and families. We've implemented texting, mobile cloud-based med- ical records and triage. We will test wearables in 2019. We don't know all the answers, but we are deter- mined to find them and share what we learn. A rising tide lifts all boats. Bricks have and will continue to serve a purpose, but bricks alone are no longer enough to meet the needs of today's or tomorrow's pet owners and caregivers. It's time to embrace clicks in support of the veterinary team. We can provide easier, better, faster and more af- fordable care to pet families while not burning out any more dedicat- ed veterinary professionals. The future is here. Give clicks a chance. Creative Disruption columnist Dr. Bob Lester is chief medical officer of WellHaven Pet Health and a founding member of Banfield Pet Hospital and the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine. He serves on the North American Veterinary Community board of directors. We've implemented texting, mobile cloud- based medical records and triage. We will test wearables in 2019. Continued from Page 39

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