6 Steps to Stronger Preventive Care Protocols
You know routine preventive care visits are the best way to detect underlying diseases in their early stages, ensuring more effective treatment and a better prognosis for patients. These visits also provide a higher level of value to your clients and represent a predictable source of ongoing revenue for your practice. If you’d like to strengthen your preventive care program, but you’re having trouble getting traction, here are some simple steps you can take for a more effective approach.
Before you begin
To effectively change practice protocols and gain compliance from pet owners, you and your staff must truly believe that what you’re recommending is in your patients’ best interests. Share your knowledge about preventive care and its role in early disease detection with your staff to gain their support and rally enthusiasm for the change.
These six steps can not only help you implement a successful preventive care program but are the foundation for successfully implementing any protocol change in your practice:
- Measure your current compliance. Run a report in your practice-management software to identify the number of patients you’ve seen in the past year. Find out how many of those patients received preventive care examinations or had preventive screens to establish a healthy baseline. Also run reports for preventive care components, such as screens for heartworm, tick-borne diseases and intestinal parasites as well as vaccines and preventive dispensing.
- Share your findings and talk about ways to improve. To ensure consistency across your practice, agree to and post your preventive standards of care. Decide which tests will be run on pediatric, adult and senior patients. Help your staff gain confidence in talking about preventive care with clients and ensure clients hear a consistent message.
- Make a plan and assign responsibilities. Discuss and gain agreement on the best ideas to grow preventive care in your practice, such as forward-booking preventive care visits or adding baseline testing to your preanesthetic protocols. Start with one to three of these ideas to manage the number of changes you’re making at once, and set reasonable goals. Write a step-by-step plan. Assign specific tasks to receptionists, technicians, doctors and managers.
- Promote accountability. Meet monthly to talk about progress, and make adjustments when necessary. Talk about what’s working, what isn’t and why. Praise team members who are completing tasks and privately coach those who need to follow through.
- Measure progress. Check your progress and update the results weekly so your team can gain confidence if they’re succeeding or so they can pick up the pace, if necessary.
- Celebrate success. Think of ways to reward your staff or to recognize outstanding efforts. Having lunch delivered or presenting individuals with gift cards are affordable options that can go a long way toward letting staff know their efforts are valued and appreciated.
Taking steps to improve your preventive care protocols directly benefits your patients. It can also be rewarding for staff members and your bottom line. At idexx.com/steps, you’ll find the tools you need to educate and train your staff and implement your new protocols, including videos, scripts and skill drills to help everyone gain confidence when talking with clients.
“Implementing new protocols or revising existing protocols can be a challenge in any clinic,” says Cathy Michaelson, MBA, Business Manager at Aurnsville Animal Clinic. “The IDEXX STEPs program provides a variety of tools to help simplify and standardize this process. Inclusion of client education pieces and staff training tools also dramatically reduce the length of time from review to implementation, thereby allowing our staff to focus their attention on our patients and clients without hassle!”
If you’d like to strengthen your preventive care program, but you’re having trouble getting traction, here are some simple steps you can take for a more effective approach.
Wendy S. Myers
Communication Solutions for Veterinarians Inc
Wendy S. Myers owns the Denver consulting firm, Communication Solutions for Veterinarians. The firm helps teams improve compliance, client service and practice management.