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Prep your practice with these trends and make 2017 your best year ever

With 2017 upon us, now is the time to make sure your practice is set up to deliver the best care and service to patients and clients alike. Here are six trends we see for 2017 and how you can act on them and position your practice to succeed.

1. Innovations in diagnostic testing will help veterinarians to identify more disease earlier and monitor changes more accurately, meaning more opportunity for treatment and optimized management that may provide a patient with a healthier and longer life. Testing for SDMA, the new biomarker for kidney disease, is currently available through IDEXX Reference Laboratories and is expected to be available for in-house testing in Q4 of this year. This will bring your veterinary practice instant access to this powerful kidney biomarker, simplifying work flow and saving valuable time.

Another innovation focuses on fecal parasite testing. One of the most common tests performed in practice is the fecal flotation test. This test relies on finding parasite eggs and larvae via a cumbersome flotation procedure. It also relies on the parasite to mature to the point of laying eggs. As parasite testing for heartworms and Giardia advanced from microscopic evaluation to antigen testing, testing for hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms was added. Now with the breakthrough Fecal Dx antigen testing, which detects antigen from these common intestinal parasites, infections can be identified earlier, during prepatent periods and in single-sex infections. The Fecal Dx antigen testing is available now through IDEXX Reference Laboratories.

2. Real-time testing continues to be essential for prompt diagnoses and timely care in emergencies, for hospitalized patients, and for continuous patient monitoring. Concerned pet owners want, or need, real-time answers. More in-house diagnostic options than ever before are already available on the Catalyst Dx and Catalyst One chemistry analyzers, including total T4 and fructosamine, and SDMA testing is expected to be available in Q4 of this year.

3. Certain infectious diseases are becoming more prevalent and are emerging into new geographic areas. Lyme disease, for example, may be more widespread—it is being diagnosed in regions where it didn’t previously have a presence. Other emerging infectious diseases are being recognized more frequently, and outbreaks are being discovered, like the recent avian influenza cluster in a New York City cat shelter. Comprehensive testing using multiple test platforms, such as ELISA and RealPCR testing, makes even more sense in this progressively contagious environment.

 4. The amount of new medical information is and will keep exploding. Access to the best and most relevant continuing education (CE) is becoming more important for all staff members. Most states will require it, so start now and map out your CE for the year. Look to the IDEXX Learning Center to find CE opportunities that match your content needs and learning style.

5. People love their pets, and studies are showing millennials will love their pets even more—and as a result, spend more on their four-legged family members’ care. This is a great opportunity to start speaking with clients about the importance of preventive care, and move beyond sick pet or acute care conversations. The continued explosion of information on the Internet means pet owners will become even more aware of innovations in diagnoses and treatment, and they will expect the best for their pets.

Here’s a resource for talking about the value of preventive care with your clients.

6. The expectations for customer service are continuing to increase. Because companies like Amazon, American Express, and Southwest Airlines continue to set the precedent for best-in-class customer service, your clients are expecting increasingly better service from you and their other service providers. To offer best-in-class customer service, you must make scheduling appointments easy, give clients as much information as possible during a patient visit, and provide a significant amount of information about your practice online. Moreover, people are already consuming 65% of digital content on mobile devices1—so make sure you are connecting with your clients using the latest technology.

For even more resources on how best to prep your practice for 2017, visit the IDEXX Learning Center.


1. Goovaerts D. Death of desktop: 65% of digital media consumed on mobile. Wireless Published March 31, 2016. Accessed January 13, 2017.

Roberta Relford, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVIM, DAVCP

Roberta Relford, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVIM, DAVCP

Dr. Relford is Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of IDEXX Reference Laboratories. She received a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University then worked as a small animal practitioner in Florida and Tennessee before pursuing advanced training. While in practice, Roberta became interested in diagnostics and obtained a Master of Science degree in veterinary pathology from Mississippi State University. After moving to Texas, Roberta was on faculty at Texas A&M University for 9½ years and completed her pathology residency, internal medicine residency, and became a Clinical Assistant Professor. Roberta taught students and cared for pets that were referred to Texas A&M from across the state of Texas. During this time, she obtained a second doctorate with a Ph.D. in veterinary pathology and pursued advanced training in small animal internal medicine. Roberta has obtained board certification by both American College of Veterinary Pathologists and American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

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