Interestingly enough, about half of pet owners surveyed don't understand the concepts their veterinarian is talking about.
"There is a huge opportunity here on how we are reaching out to clients," Felsted says.
"We are asking pet owners to make decisions about services that are complicated; they are scary, and they are expensive. And
we are not explaining to them what we want them to do and why it is important. This is a critical point," Felsted says.
The majority of veterinarians, 57 percent, strongly agreed with the statement that they talk through an exam with clients.
"There is a disconnect with what pet owners are saying and what veterinarians are doing."
The message is to look at your communication style and technique. Are you using too many medical terms? Can you describe a
complicated medical process and still make it easy for pet owners to understand?
The project's goal, explains Christiano von Simpson, DVM, MBA, director of veterinary services for Bayer HealthCare LLC, was
to not only find out what was causing the decline in patient visits but also offer suggestions on ways veterinarians could
use the data to reverse trends.
While it's been well-documented that veterinarians remain one of the most respected professions, these data present an opportunity
to advance veterinary care and improve the health status of pets, von Simpson says. Client education is still the key.
Reversing a decline
- Develop industry-wide and clinically supported guidance on annual veterinary visits and promote that standard among pet
- Communicate to pet owners the health and economic value of regular treatment and exams.
- Make veterinary practice more "cat friendly" with separate entrances and quiet rooms for cats and their owners.
- Make it as easy as possible for pet owners to schedule and keep appointments by adopting electronic scheduling software,
reminder notifications, email and text messages.
- Consider alternative pricing strategies and offer financing options for pet owners.
- Develop an individualized full-year wellness program.
- Integrate new marketing strategies and tools, including using Facebook and Twitter to connect with pet owners.
- Offer options for monthly payments.
- Help cat owners address transportation problems.
Source: NCVEI, Brakke Consulting, Bayer HealthCare LLC