Five-minute wellness: Preventive veterinary care that lets the team take charge - DVM
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Five-minute wellness: Preventive veterinary care that lets the team take charge
This veterinarian's unorthodox system thrilled employees, let doctors focus on medicine and quintupled practice revenue.


DVM360 MAGAZINE


"Doctors and team members go into the library and bring back three or four brochures," Yoo says. "They open them up and say, 'Mrs. Jones, this is the one you need to read. Give me a call this afternoon and we can discuss it further.'"

Yoo says the more pet owners know about their pet's problem, the more responsible they become, the more likely they are to comply with the doctor's recommendations and the sooner they notice problems with their pets. "In other words, educated clients become responsible and responsive," Yoo says.

Surprisingly enough, clients actually do the homework when the brochures are customized this way, complete with the doctor's business card stapled to the front. What might be even more surprising? Veterinarians have time for these follow-up calls when they fully utilize their staff.

In hospitals run by Yoo, it's the doctor's job to make a diagnosis and perform certain treatments—team members do everything else allowed by state law. He says doctors practice maximum delegation and sometimes the veterinarians don't have much chance to even touch the needles. After the doctor writes down the treatment plan, technicians take back over. Yoo says the veterinarians are there to support the staff—not the only way around.

"We hear the staff giving the doctors direction all of the time through the paging system," Yoo says. "They point the doctors where to go, which room they need to be in, because they've got it all prepared."

Yoo calls this a "staff-centered practice." He says when team members are given more responsibility they take more pride in their work and have a much stronger relationship with clients. Plus, Yoo says patients live longer with better quality of life when preventive medicine is put into place in their early stages of life.

"Time doesn't easily allow doctors to go into preventive medicine—it can only be successful when staff is involved," Yoo says. "Doctors go into the exam room to deal with an urgent and compelling medical problem: ear infection, protruding eyeball, etc."

So how does Yoo make sure his staff is trained and on board? Once-a-month staff meetings. And he's not talking about an hour block where the doctors tell the staff what to do. Team members take turns leading each of these meetings and focusing on different aspects of preventive medicine. The team member in charge studies his or her topic ahead of time and shares stories about what could happen to a pet that doesn't receive proper preventive medicine—e.g., "Scarlett was behind on this vaccine and contracted parvovirus." When a new drug is released, the team discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the product, and the leader of the meeting can even invite a drug salesperson to speak to the group.

Yoo says it takes a veterinary staff about three to six months of training before they're ready to fully switch gears and take the reins of preventive medicine in a clinic. But boy is it worth it. Yoo recently sold his last veterinary practice and in five years it was bringing in five times the revenue it started with—despite the state of the economy. More importantly, the whole team was more efficient and able to help save more patients.

"A highly empowered team will assist clients and pets through quality care and preventive medicine," Yoo says. "With your support in education and training, staff members can reshape the culture of the practice."


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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