Accreditation, compliance pack AAHA leader's agenda

Accreditation, compliance pack AAHA leader's agenda

Mar 01, 2003

Link Welborn, DVM, who grew up on a farm alongside horses, dogs, goats and peacocks to name a few, is seeking the acceptance of his veterinarian peers.

Not for him personally, but for the benefit of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), which is about to unveil its practice accreditation standards.

The incoming president of AAHA for 2003-2004, described as caring, pragmatic and dedicated, says he can't help but get excited about the recently overhauled accreditation standards.

"The development and implementation of the new AAHA Practice Accreditation Standards has the potential to improve the quality of care for thousands of patients, clients and practices...," says Welborn, who currently practices at three clinics in Tampa.

Since 1998, Welborn spent time on the accreditation program taskforce responsible for the standards. He says his hope is that accredited practices aren't the only ones to share his enthusiasm about the comprehensive revised standards.

"Since virtually any practice now has access to the new standards, I believe many more practices will consider practice accreditation."

But the release of the standards is only the beginning of a dedicated process.

"There's a difference between producing standards and implementing them, then subsequently using those standards," says Welborn, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

Other agendas

Second on Welborn's horizon is ensuring that the results from a forthcoming AAHA client compliance project are transformed into actions in practice.

The enormous undertaking gathered feedback from veterinary staff of numerous practices nationwide, as well as their pet owner clientele to determine the level of client compliance with healthcare recommendations within animal hospitals. The project incorporates industry data into its findings.

"We need to raise awareness that client compliance is not really as good as what people believe it to be off the cuff," says Welborn. "Clearly healthcare recommendations are of no benefit unless clients comply with or follow through on (them)."

AAHA has found that most practices don't measure compliance.

Welborn notes, "If you go to practices and ask (about) the client compliance with heartworm preventative or recommendations with senior care, the vast majority of practices will only be able to tell you their gut feeling as opposed to any real meaningful data. In almost every case, they overestimate."

When the project is completed, Welborn says he plans to direct the association to develop tools for practices to be more effective in achieving high compliance. The project, which is being funded by an educational grant from Hill's Pet Nutrition, is scheduled for completion by the annual meeting in Phoenix, March 22-26.

A final educational initiative evolving during Welborn's term is what's called "Driving Excellence in Veterinary Practice," a truck tour that will travel to national veterinary meetings and veterinary schools.

His credentials

Welborn, a 1982 University of Florida graduate, is co-owner of North Bay Animal & Bird Hospital, Temple Terrace Animal & Bird Hospital, and The Cat Doctors. He says that had he not become a veterinarian, he would've chosen to be an obstetrician because, "participating in the joy of childbirth from a medical perspective seems like the next best thing."

His AAHA involvement spans numerous committees, including leadership, canine vaccine guidelines, audit and control and bylaws. He is currently a trustee of the AAHA Foundation.

Beyond veterinary medicine his interests include scuba diving, dabbling in the stock market, football - he's a self-proclaimed diehard fan of the World Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and family time. Welborn and his wife, Laura, have one daughter-Kaitlin.