Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

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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40 Today's Veterinary Business Leadership How do you convince clients that gingivitis, if left untreated, will progress to periodontal disease and possibly a systemic infection? It's often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Use photographs, models and even videos to drive home the point. Photographing a pet's oral disease will: • Allow the client to see the oral pathology without the need to focus on a moving target — the mouth. • Become permanent docu- mentation of the pathology. • Provide a take-home view that the client can share with family members. • Serve as a reminder to the client of the need to return for treatment. • Provide the client with the first of before-and-after photos. Other Tactics A dental report card is a great way to help a client understand the treatment given to their pet. Include a simplified dental chart on which problem areas are marked or highlighted. A section for diagnosis, treatment, home care, prescriptions and follow-up visits should be included. Keep it simple and use bright, cheerful colors and clip art. Always remind the client to call with any and all questions. The dental report card, or take- home sheet, is a great tool, but even more important is the need to sched- ule a follow-up appointment before the client leaves. This shows the client that even though your hospital is busy and hectic at 5 p.m., you think dental issues are important enough to take time to go over the procedure, home- care recommendations and answer questions. This appointment should be done by a technician. Putting together a dental goody bag is a great way to provide infor- mational handouts and samples. Including food, toothpaste and a toothbrush lets the owners know of the many oral care options. February is Dental Health Awareness Month, not Dental Dis- count Month. Take advantage of the annual promotion to educate clients about the impor- tance of good oral care. Discounting procedures often has an adverse effect by sublimi- nally telling clients that the procedure is not necessary or is overpriced. ( They might think, " That's why the clinic can afford to discount it!") Find another way of rewarding clients. February is also Dental Health Month for people. Take time to write an article for the local news- paper, appear on a radio talk show to talk about pet oral care, or volunteer to give presentations to schoolchildren. When promot- ing dental care, a great tool is to get the children involved. As we teach children to brush their teeth, we can teach them to brush their pet's teeth. This helps build the human-animal bond and can teach responsibility. When advising clients to brush their pet's teeth, point out that the activity can help build the bond between them. Communicating the impor- tance of dental treatment and oral care should become as common- place as doing vaccinations and heartworm testing. Each annual visit should be an opportunity for a dental evaluation and care recommendation. Clients soon will understand the need for regular dental exams and cleanings. Every team member must be a part of the strategy. Dentistry begins with the telephone call to the receptionist. The technician who meets the client in the exam room has another opportunity to talk about dental care. A ken- nel staff member who handles a boarded pet can point out obvious problems. The veterinarian diag- noses and treats the animal. Each team member's role is critical to a successful dental practice. Let's explore each one. The Team The receptionist must project a positive attitude regarding dentistry and home care. How a receptionist handles telephone shoppers is equally important. When asked how much a practice charges for a dental procedure, the answer must be, "It depends upon the degree of oral disease present." The receptionist should avoid quot- ing prices over the phone. What is best is to explain the difficulty of determining the true extent of oral disease until each tooth has been evaluated under anesthesia and radiographs have been evaluated. At that point, a treatment plan can be formulated and fees calculated. The receptionist can tell telephone shoppers this: "We can't give you an accurate estimate for a dental treatment over the phone as the cost depends upon the degree of treatment necessary to give your pet the very best care possible. It is essential that we ex- Leadership A brochure filled with frequently asked questions is a good way to address concerns that a client might have but is not sure how to ask. 1

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