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.
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Feb 01, 2013


Dr. Henry Yoo (pictured below) created a five-minute checklist to help his team practice better preventive medicine in five easy steps. PHOTOS COURTESY OF HENRY YOO, DVM
In most veterinary clinics, team members are waiting for the doctors' orders. In Henry Yoo's practices, the veterinarians wait for the team's direction.

Case in point: When Yoo, DVM, MSc, MBA, asks his receptionist about the upcoming schedule for the day, she basically tells him, "Go away, Dr. Yoo. We can handle it. We'll call you when we need you."


Dr. Yoo keeps brochures in the back—so his team can chose the best ones for each client (right). On his non-traditional staff directory, the doctors are listed last (below). "In our practice, receptionists and technicians are regarded as the top people. They feel very well-respected and it shows in their attitude," Dr. Yoo says.
Of course, his staff didn't become this confident overnight. Yoo, now an executive consultant for Infinity Medical Consulting in Santa Monica, Calif., owned four practices in Ohio for 20 years and says in the beginning doctors and team members worked independently as "separate Indian chiefs." Plus, everyone practiced his or her own perception of preventive medicine—the most important type of medicine clinics can implement, Yoo says.

That's when he decided let the team members run the practice under one aligned system so doctors could focus on client interaction, patient emergencies and treatment. He even created a five-minute checklist to help staff members practice the best preventive medicine possible—and do so efficiently based on his postdoctoral training at The Ohio State University. The checklist is broken down into five easy steps and starts with the receptionist at the front desk. (See a preview of the form at left and head to http://dvm360.com/preventivechecklist to download the document for your team.)

The checklist reminds the receptionist to cover the predetermined topics on the sheet by asking clients questions such as:

> Does your pet have insurance?

> Does he have a microchip?

> Did he have any blood work done on his last visit?

> Is he due for any vaccinations or a fecal check?

He or she initials the appropriate boxes so the exam room technician knows what topics have been covered. The technician then builds on this discussion by saying something like, "As Judy mentioned at the front desk, let's talk about heartworm prevention. It takes only one mosquito to transfer heartworms to your pet."

During this discussion, the technician also gives the client a brochure on heartworm prevention with the most relevant information circled or highlighted. Yoo says that too often clinics have a handful of brochures on display in the waiting room and it's the client's job to pick them up—and this method is not ideal. His practices have a library full of brochures in the back that the clients never see. It's the doctors' and team members' job to select the best pamphlets for each individual client and case.