Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 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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14 Today's Veterinary Business Business Yet while trying to be jacks of all trades, at some point we must recognize that we can't know everything. Over the years, special- ties emerged and specialists were trained. Once they outgrew the boundaries of universities, specialists went out in the world and opened referral practices. They suddenly could justify investing in expensive, specialized equipment that others could only dream of: advanced im- aging, sophisticated surgical equip- ment, endoscopy in the broadest sense and so much more. Specialty hospitals offered round-the-clock care and took on the practitioner's burden of being on call after hours. How can a generalist nurture a relationship with a specialist? How can they work together for the benefit of clients and patients? How can they perform as a complemen- tary team? Here are 11 reasons to partner with a specialist. Better Care Most specialty hospitals can't provide it all. A generalist who assembles a strong referral team can provide standard of care regardless of patients' needs. "Getting things done the right way the first time saves time, money and heartache," said St. Louis concierge surgeon Jenn Wardlaw, DVM, MS, DACVS. Covering Your Behind If you find yourself in litigation, having offered a referral may be the difference between winning and losing the case. It is your obligation to provide clients with all their op- tions, even if they seek care outside of your practice. Client Retention Pet owners become upset when they have to return for multiple visits because of the same issue. They may seek a second opinion, acting on the advice of a neighbor, breeder or groomer, if you don't make a timely recom- mendation. You may never again see a client who got a second opinion — and a specialist referral — from a local colleague. on behalf of general practitioners and steer them in the right direc- tion before the wrong procedure is recommended or performed. This in turn makes general practitioners look good in front of their client. Patient Advocacy Occasionally, treatment of a disease is not possible or recom- mended. Cancer is a classic but sad situation in which clients wait too long. Specialists may have to gently explain that removing a large tumor is not possible. Or that excising a tumor is possible but may lead to a large wound that cannot be closed. Or that the patient's quality of life would decrease to an ethically unacceptable point. Rather than jumping to euthanasia, proper pain management and hospice care should be discussed. Learning Not all referral facilities are cre- ated equal. The good ones help you learn from every interaction. They keep you and your client up to date with diagnostics, treatments and outcomes. This can provide an op- portunity for you and your team to grow. You may be able to diagnose new conditions that you would not have recognized previously. Veterinary generalists often brag that their job is more difficult than that of their human medicine counterparts. And it's true: Over the course of one day, generalists might practice internal medicine, dentistry, der- matology, surgery, ophthalmology, cardiology, oncology and radiology. They manage weight-loss programs, cogni- tive dysfunction and osteoarthritis. They advise on husbandry, behavior and contagious diseases. And of course, all of this is applied to multiple species. Giving clients the early option of a referral, when warranted, will show that you have patients' best in- terests in mind and not your ego or pocketbook. In turn, doing this will build client trust in you and keep them coming back to your hospital. Free Services It's not all about the money; it's about relationships and service. Many specialists are happy to help referring veterinarians at no charge, whether it means discussing a patient's situation, reading radio- graphs or recommending a medi- cation. "My referring vets can call, text or email me anytime with any question," Dr. Wardlaw said. Looking Good Studies and experience show that a significant number of pa- tients diagnosed with hip dysplasia are acutely affected by a torn CCL. Another situation involves fractures that were thought to be traumatic when in fact they were pathological. Surgeons regularly review X-rays By Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ Patients and the referring hospital both can benefit when a general practitioner partners with a veterinary specialist. Business SPECIALISTS Significant others 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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