IDEXX Cornerstone Software

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Update your reminders to avoid a scheduling ripple effect

If you’re like most North American Veterinary practices, you likely saw patient traffic crater between March and May 2020 due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, followed by a surge in visits as clients brought pets whose care was overdue as well as new furry family members. As we near March 2021, we recommend reviewing your reminders to ensure this anomaly in patient traffic isn’t inadvertently repeated, and check patient records for pets who may have missed out on preventive care during that period so they don’t get overlooked this year.

Here are four tips for preventing this ripple effect from 2020, plus pre-written, ready-to-use messaging you can plug into reminders or your practice’s newsletter or social media feed

1. Reach out to clients with pets who did not make it to your practice in 2020 due to scheduling restrictions. These can help fill in the gaps created by those that were normally seen at this time shifting to later in the year.

  • If you send reminders directly from Cornerstone, simply set your beginning and end dates to a past period. Be sure to revise reminder message(s) accordingly.
  • If you use a reminder service, you can use this same method to create a reminder file.
  • If you want to send a letter to this patient group, use the Client Patient Report Builder for patients that had an annual exam in 2019 (included in history) and did not have one in 2020. Make sure to exclude inactive/deceased patients. 

2. Revisit your reminder strategy for both timing and frequency, and craft messaging accordingly based on the focus of the reminder group (missed 2020, coming due in 2021).

  • Start earlier, at least 6-8 weeks prior to due date to allow for ample lead time for scheduling so pets do not turn overdue and unprotected before the appointment can get on the books.
  • Use messaging along the lines of: “we are booking appointments ‘x’ weeks out,” or “we are providing extra notice on <insert healthcare services> coming due”. Encourage your clients to schedule those appointments now.
  • Use a variety of communication methods: email/text, postcard, letter.
  • According to an AAHA study, reminding up to 5 times is acceptable to clients.

3. Remind weekly in smaller batches vs. sending all at the same time to not overwhelm your communication and scheduling systems.

4. Redistribute 2020 delayed care, when feasible, to get pets and their families back on track. This may take more than a year to do so as not to provide services sooner than is medically prudent.

  • Evaluate the shift by reviewing the number of annual exams performed March-April 2019 and March-April 2020 compared to the number of annual exam reminders due Mar-April 2021.
  • Use the Invoice Item Sales Information report sorted by Invoice Item ID and Client ID for your annual exam code for 2019-2020 to pinpoint specific patients to reach out to.
Ready-to-use messaging

Reminder custom language: We want to give your pet the right level of care in these trying times, and we noticed that you’re overdue for a visit. Give us a call today to schedule your annual checkup and talk to our staff about the precautions we’ve put in place to help ensure the safety of you, your pet, and our team.

Newsletter/social media: The health of you and your pet is our top priority, and we’re here to make it safe and easy to come see us. That's why we've put some precautions in place, including <list some examples>. 2021 is going to be a busy year for <practice name>, and we want to make sure we get to see you. We will be sending reminders earlier than usual this year so we can get your appointment on the calendar and stay on track with the care your pet needs, so keep an eye out and give us a call.

Michelle Campoli, CVT, CVPM

Michelle Campoli, CVT, CVPM

Michelle Campoli loves teaching people how they can do more with Cornerstone. When she’s not sharing her favorite tips and tricks in one of our Cornerstone user group meetings, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband, cat, and retired greyhounds; playing in her kitchen and volunteering for her local greyhound adoption group.