LAKEWOOD, COLO. — Veterinarians play as much a role in improving poor compliance as pet owners, according to a new study slated for release in July.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and Pfizer Animal Health conducted a national research project to identify barriers to medication adherence, interventions to increase adherence and communication practices that can help increase compliance.
What will be in the report?
Pet owners are looking for simple, detailed instructions and easy administration techniques, according to the study, and they are willing to pay a premium if things are made easier for them.
The study identifies specific pointers that helped increase compliance levels from 64 percent to 73 percent over six years in the practices studied. Clear instructions from a veterinarian, staff follow-up and pharmaceutical refill reminders all help the client worry less about their role in compliance, according to the study, which examines specific communication and follow-up techniques.
In 2002, AAHA worked with Hill's Pet Nutrition on the first compliance study, "The Path to High Quality Care." The study's most significant finding was that veterinarians thought compliance levels were much higher than they actually were. The 2002 study indicated that 60 percent of veterinary professionals thought compliance was solely the client's responsibility. In 2008, the same number, 60 percent, said that compliance is the responsibility of the entire practice team.
"I think what's changed is there's a higher level of acceptance that we as veterinarians and practice teams have a responsibility to help clients understand the need and value of a particular treatment," explains AAHA Executive Director Dr. John Albers.
The most successful of the 260 practices participating in the study increased compliance without new staff, equipment or software, Albers adds.
"They made a commitment to doing everything they could to be good patient advocates," he says. "We were very encouraged because I think the things it takes to improve compliance are in the capabilities of every practice out there. It takes some time and it takes some effort and it takes some commitment, but it's very, very doable."
The new study, which will be released in July by AAHA, is titled "Six Steps to Higher Quality Patient Care."