The study also provides new insights on what clients want their veterinarians to do for them and their pets, and how important
cost considerations are when they make pet care decisions in the exam room.
The study cites clients' perceptions that recommendations and follow-through on items like dental prophylaxes and pre-anesthetic
screens did not occur. They were not told about them, nor were they asked to schedule the services for their pets.
Veterinarians' misperceptions about the extent of the compliance problem and the causes behind it may be blinding them to
the need to act. In other words, until veterinarians and their staffs believe there is a problem, it is unlikely they will
do something about it. The good news is that once the hospital team is ready to tackle compliance, the rewards are there.
A systematic, step-by-step compliance training plan can usually produce measurable improvement in compliance outcomes and
patient care, as well as practice revenue.
Information and team training are keys to success
- Step 1: Start with the facts
A practice manager, technician or an experienced receptionist can usually audit patient records and gather the data. She should
check for the six most common compliance gaps identified in the AAHA Compliance Study:
1. Core vaccinations
2. Heartworm testing and prevention.
3. Therapeutic diets
4. Dental prophylaxis
5. Pre-anesthetic screenings
6. Senior screenings
It is not necessary to check all patient records. Thirty records should provide a representative sample in most cases. (See
the AAHA Web site for suggested sampling methods for patient records.)
- Step 2: Determine goals and set protocols to achieve them
Using Tootsie as an example, the whole hospital team needs to tackle questions such as what they can do to communicate better
with each other on the recommended care for Tootsie. Is there a place on Tootsie's travel sheet or some other way to let the
receptionist know that she needs to send Mrs. Dunn home with a weight-loss diet, schedule Tootsie's dental prophy and six-month
senior exam, and enter Tootsie' prescription refill reminder?
The team should also consider what else they could do to improve the probability of Mrs. Dunn's compliance. For instance,
is there client information they could share with Mrs. Dunn about the best way to introduce Tootsie to the new diet or talk
to her about the benefits of your senior pet exam? Who on the hospital team can be the backup and talk to Mrs. Dunn about
these things if the doctor is otherwise engaged and the technician and receptionist are busy?
Deciding what specific responsibilities each team member will have and what new protocols the team will follow to get the
job done are vital to achieving a consistent client experience and compliance success. Without protocols and training, team
members may be unsure of what they are supposed to do, or they may believe that someone else on the team is already doing
it. In either case, compliance suffers and pets do not get the care they need.
- Step 3: Create a safe, productive learning environment
What goals have you set? Have they been shared with the whole hospital team so that everyone knows what to focus on? Have
you decided how you will track, measure and report your hospital's compliance progress?