The top five reasons cat owners don't comply - DVM
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The top five reasons cat owners don't comply
Strengthen your patient care by eliminating these common reasons for client noncompliance.


DVM Best Practices


During Fluffy's annual physical exam, you notice a buildup of plaque on her teeth. You tell the client that Fluffy needs a dental cleaning and explain why it's important. Because people absorb pictures better than words, you show the client Fluffy's teeth and pictures of cats with healthy teeth as well as cats with varying stages of dental disease. After you use a dental model to reinforce your points, you give Fluffy's owner a pamphlet explaining the importance of dental care. When she checks out, the receptionist can also answer questions because you've trained your staff members to intelligently discuss dental care.

Clients can also become confused by inconsistent instructions between doctors. Let's say Mrs. Johnson brought her cat in for an ear infection. Dr. Hill gave her medication to apply once daily and scheduled a recheck in two weeks. Several months later, Mrs. Johnson comes back with another cat with an infected ear. Dr. Hill was on vacation, so Dr. Suri examined the cat. Dr. Suri recommends flushing the cat's ear once daily and applying an otic ointment twice daily. Mrs. Johnson remembers Dr. Hill's recommendations and decides that Dr. Suri's recommendations are overkill. After all, Dr. Hill wouldn't steer her wrong.

It's nearly impossible for all doctors in a practice to agree on the same protocol 100% of the time, but if they have significantly different approaches to medicine, confusion will reign between clients and staff members and pet care will suffer.

REASON #3: The client doesn't understand the importance of the recommendation. Consider this scenario: A client brings in a cat with a red eye and ocular discharge. After examining the eye, staining it, and diagnosing a corneal ulcer, you instruct the owner to apply antibiotic drops every four hours for one week. The owner becomes upset, saying the treatment is impossible, so you tell her to try to apply the drops at least once a day. But what have you just said? You've told the client that your original recommendation wasn't important. In this instance, a better answer would have been, "I understand how difficult it can be, but putting these drops in Fluffy's eye every four hours is important to prevent infection so the eye has time to heal. Would you like to bring Fluffy here in the mornings so we can medicate her throughout the day? You could pick her up after work."

Another excellent way to determine if clients are providing at-home care properly is to make follow-up phone calls. Even if everything is going smoothly, the call shows the practice's concern for the pet and gives the owner an opportunity to ask any additional questions. A doctor or knowledgeable staff member can make the calls—just be sure to set aside enough time every day.

REASON #4: The client feels that complying with the recommendation is too difficult. Most clients work outside the home, making it very difficult to give treatments two or three times a day, much less every four hours as mentioned above. So if you have a choice, consider drugs with simpler dosing regimes, even if they cost a bit more. Clients are more likely to comply with once-a-day antibiotics than those requiring administration two or three times a day.

Also consider how clients will administer the treatment. No one wants to stick his hand into the mouth of a fractious cat, so consider using a topical flea preventive instead of an oral one. Even friendly cats can be difficult to medicate, so offer a liquid formulation or flavoring system to make medications more palatable. The easier your recommendations are, the more likely clients will comply.

REASON #5: The client forgets the recommendation.

Many recommendations are for future tests or treatments, such as rechecks or dental exams. Because people remember only a small portion of what they hear, remind owners of recommendations multiple times and in multiple ways—both verbally and on paper. Try to schedule procedures before clients leave the office. If clients don't want to make an appointment at that time, give them a handout to take home and follow up with a letter or phone call one week later.


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Source: DVM Best Practices,
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