Author: Paul Hall

Getting the Client’s Attention for Patient Compliance


The key to patient compliance is getting the client’s attention and making it easy for them to get preventive care for their pets.

Between-visit client communication can motivate clients and help them understand how to keep their pets as healthy as possible.  But, if they don’t have easy access to attention-grabbing information, your patients may end up missing some of the preventive care you recommend.

Many practices believe that they already have the best client communication in place.  But, most practices have one or more gaps that are impacting patients’ preventive care health and pet owner satisfaction.  So, it’s worth a re-visit to see if you need to upgrade some elements of your programs, and take some of the load off staff.

The Basics:

  • Personalized Reminders in all 4 channels: print, email, text and push notification in portal/app to reach all clients, regardless of what channel they are using today;
  • Compelling graphics and messaging that stands out and gets them to pay attention.  Client-friendly language that can be fully customized for your practice;
  • Direct access link on every reminder, that let’s clients make an appointment request easily (including QR code on the postcard);
  • A complete pet portal/app that ALL clients can access, not just those clients who download and install an app;
  • 3-4 reminder attempts;  consolidate multiple vaccines/service near-by due dates on a reminder, to get several services done in a single visit;
  • Full practice logo and brand colors for consistent client recognition.

Differences that Matter:

  • Reminder timing coordinated and optimized across channels, to arrive about the same time for highest top-of-mind awareness and response;
  • Breed-specific, pet-specific photography of human-animal bonding, again to get them to notice and relate to your communication;
  • Easy, direct access link to the client’s portal/app page from every reminder!!  One-click, no login required!! …and, to any device, computer or phone;
  • Let clients know the vaccines and services your practice considers essential/advised.  Let them easily learn why each preventive care item is important to the health of their pet(s).  Most importantly, identify any recommended preventive care their pets are missing;
  • Large format, higher quality reminder postcards that stick out in the mail and get the client’s attention.

This between-visit information and engagement with clients, done right, takes workload off your staff and boosts client support for patient health!

Note: Cost is no longer an issue on putting in or upgrading a combined pet portal/client app, that is very easy for clients to use.  You can now get a portal/app included for FREE, without paying a high monthly fee!!

One extra tip:

Some practices think they can drop postcards and just do electronic reminders.   But, postcards are still the most effective way of reaching all clients.  Only 30% of clients open their email.  And, text reminders help, but don’t reach everyone or necessarily move them to respond.

If you drop postcards, your compliance and reminder revenue will drop 10-20%… costing you patient health and significant revenue, rather than saving you money!!

Spotting & Filling Gaps in Preventive Care Reminders – compliance only 1/2 the issue.

Many patients may be missing one or more of the preventive care vaccines and services you recommend, simply because the reminder has not yet been set up.

“Patient Compliance” measures whether a patient is getting the vaccines and services you’ve designated for them in reminders.

But, what percent of your active patients are missing a preventive care vaccine or service that is core or advised in your standard of care…because a reminder hasn’t even been set up for it yet.  This is a very critical missing metric:   S.I.R.  your Standard-of-care Implementation Rate.   Here is an example:

(A SIR report on your practice is available for free by requesting it from

You may have a strong 50-70% 90-day compliance on Distemper Vaccines.  But, if only 72% of your active canine patients have a distemper reminder on file… that means that a hidden nearly 30% of your patients are missing key preventive care you may have in your core recommendations.

(This analysis, of course, is tied to the vaccines/services that your practice considers core or advised.  And, obviously some vaccines are contingent on the lifestyle of each particular patient.)


Filling the Gaps – 2 options


1. Catchup

It can easily happen that a particular vaccine/service just never got set up for a particular pet, especially as a patient ages and their preventive care needs change.

a. One common option for filling in missing preventive care, is considering, with every visit, what additional core/advised care and reminders should be added.  (It might be helpful to have an exam-time prompt or checklist for the vet or staff showing what is missing for that patient.  See article on “New In-Clinic Tool to Promote Preventive Care”.)

b. Another option is that you could have your staff go through your patients and add reminders for the missing vaccines/services.   (your reminder service should be able to provide a list of your active patients and any core/advised services they are missing)


2. Automated Addition of Services as “Also Recommended” 

However, you may well not have the staff time available to go back patient-by-patient and add the missing preventive care.  Very understandable!!

As an alternative, some reminder services let your practice designate what vaccines/services your practice considers core or advised.  And, then automatically added those missing items as “Also Recommended”.


Example:  So, if Bella has never had a reminder set up for a Distemper Vaccine, but you consider distemper a core or advised vaccine, Distemper is added as an “Also Recommended” vaccine to Bella’s reminder.

In this way, you can spot and fill-in the key preventive care you consider important for the health of your patients.   And, over time you are boosting your Standard-of-care Implementation and, most importantly, the preventive health of your patients!!

Providing Easy Pet Health Information for ALL Clients — eliminating barriers

How many clients easily access their pet’s health information and know what preventive care is recommended?  The answer for many practices is under half of clients.

By forcing pet owneres to download, install and use a traditional mobile app to get to their per information, we, ironically, are blocking pet information from many clients… those who are not active app-users.

Every client should have access to their pet’s information about preventive care, on any device, whether on their phone or computer.  And, it should be accessible directly from a link in every reminder… so they don’t have to go find their pet portal/app.

PWA apps (“Progressive Web Apps”) give ALL clients fingertip access to pet info, on any phone OR computer, without requiring that the client download and install a traditional phone-only app.  As a bonus, a PWA app can be configured, so that the client can get to their pet information directly from a link in each reminder… without a login.

Ideally we would offer clients both options… iPhone/Android phone app and a PWA.  Ideally they would look and function exactly the same on all devices.

These new app options eliminate barriers for clients to their pet information!!   … and, make it easier for pet owners to be more engaged in the preventive care of their pets.

Promoting Client Preventive Care Education Between Visits — leverage your client communication!!

How can we provide easy access to preventive care education between visits that is specific to each furry family members?

Between-visit Client Communications offer a superb, but untapped way to help educate clients about the preventive care, specifically for their pets.

Customize Your Reminders to promote preventive care

If your reminder messaging can be customized, then you can deliver a message focused on the importance of one or more preventive care vaccines/services, specifically for each patient.  Often, this can take the form of a “Tip”.   The focus, ideally, can be a preventive care vaccine or service that has not yet been fulfilled, or that that pet is not yet set up for.

Pet-Specific Preventive Care Education in your pet portal/app

If your pet portal and/or app can be customized, you may be able to call to the client’s attention the core and advised preventive care recommended for their particular pets.

  1. If available, include, a health “checklist” with the preventive care vaccines and services your practice recommends for dogs/cats that are part of your standard of care.
  2. Show what vaccines/services are set up for each patient (current/due/past-due), and what recommended preventive care is not yet set up for that pet. If possible, indicate that those missing key additional vaccines and services as “also recommended”.  This can prompt the pet owner to ask about these preventive care vaccines/services for that pet.  Ideally you can give them a ready, one-click way to request missing or past due vaccine/services.
  3. Keep in mind that not all pet owners know about the different vaccines and services you offer.  So, if possible, include a link by each vaccine and service that tells the client Why that vaccine/service is important to the health of their pet.

Historically, between-visit reminder and pet portal/app communication has not been used as a way to deliver pet-specific preventive care education.  But, new customizable reminders and upgraded portals and apps present an excellent ongoing way to address the preventive care needs of the individual patient.

Here is an example of how one pet portal presents the standard of care checklist and details of the importance of each vaccine/service recommended for that pet.

New In-Clinic Tool to Promote Preventive Care & Client Engagement

There is now a new easy exam room tool for vets and staff to use to get clients more engaged in the preventive care of their pets.

The vet or tech can easily  pull up and show the client their portal/app page with the vaccines and services set up for each of their pets and those other items that are also recommended. 

In this example, the vet/staff may discuss with the client adding annual Bloodwork for early detection, a dental health evaluation, and heartworm and flea/tick protection for their pet Charlie.

[The client has their portal page on their own phone (or computer at home), and a link is included in every reminder that connects them directly to that page (no install or login required).   The vet or tech can email and text this link to the client, right as they are talking.]

If you have a pet portal or app with a health checklist built in, you can pull up a particular patient’s checklist, right in the exam room and show the client how they can easily see your practice’s standard of preventive care and how they can see which vaccines and services their pet needs.

This gives the practice and veterinarians a really simple tool to have a Standard of Preventive Care discussion with the client… that they can always get back to and track progress.

Pet ID Built In
Ideally the portal/app, has an electronic version of each patient’s Pet ID card they can use/send, in case then need to provide it to a boarding/grooming facility.

Auditing Your Client Communication Capabilities — “Up to Speed” or “Upgrade Needed”?

We may think we have the right client communication tools in place.  But, many practices have gaps they don’t realize are limiting their capability to boost patient health and client satisfaction.

If you’re like most veterinary hospitals, clinics and group, you probably think your client communication systems are “Up to Speed”.  After all, it came recommended by your distributor or it’s one of the widely known systems.  And, you compared and knew that when you put it in, it was “one of the best available”.

However, you are paying a sizable monthly fee.   It may be time to do a fresh look.  Most client communication systems now have noticeable shortcomings, that are not readily visible.  The health of your patients, the happiness of your clients and the financial performance of your communication are at stake… not to mention the extra workload on your staff!

So, here is a basic audit list of the capabilities you should be able to have, and at a lower monthly cost (and with better health outcome and a higher ROI, revenue return for every dollar spent)

Note which benefits and capabilities are most important for your practice.

Reminder Communications

  • Are they designed for optimum response and patient compliance?
    • All four channels for little more cost than postcards alone — email, postcards, text and push notices in the pet portal app. (some practice try to drop postcards … but postcards reach everybody and have the highest impact and highest revenue generation for the money spent)
    • Breed and pet-specific photos for impact, Branded for your practice.
    • Timing coordinated and optimized for highest awareness and response
    • Can the client use a one-click link directly to request an appointment? (QR on the card)
    • Can the client use a one-click link/QR to go directly to their pet portal page/app? (no install or login)
    • Are the postcards large format to stand out above the phone bill?
    • Are the vaccine and service descriptions client-friendly, using the wording the practice uses?
  • How much are you paying?
    • Is there a Monthly Fee ? _______
    • Cost per card? ________    is this for:  ___ small format (6 x 4)   or  ___ large format (8.5 x 5.5)
    • What is your reminder revenue per dollar spent?

Pet Portal/ Client App

  • Can ALL clients easily get to their pet information? (or only those who install the app)
    • Can they get in directly anytime, from every reminder… without a login?
    • Do the pet portal and app look/work the same? (or does the client have to learn 2 systems)
    • Is the interface intuitive or does the user have to go to multiple screens to get to the different information?
  • Is the information in the portal/app complete?
    • Is Request an Appointment readily available, right at the front screen?
    • Is Emergency Information readily available, right at the front screen?
    • Is Practice contact information, messaging, directions, hours, etc. readily available?
    • Is it customizable and feature the Practice logo and brand colors?
    • Are all pets available on one screen, each with its own info?
      • Vaccines/Services on file, current/past due, next due date
      • Visit History
      • Medication list and easy link to request a refill
      • Lab Results
      • Pet ID
      • Practice Standard of Care Recommendations and what is missing for a given patient
      • Vaccines/Services, appointments currently-due alerts, itemized on the front screen
    • Extra Capabilities
      • Can the practice send push notifications to: ð all clients    ð particular targeted clients
      • Can the client upload new photos for their pets?
      • Can the practice add custom “promotional” message on the front screen to prompt for a particular service?   Does the message have link capabilities?
      • Are there customizable links to other resources? (e.g. online store, resource pages on the practice website, new client forms, social media links, CareCredit/ScratchPay, etc.)
      • Is there an easy on-boarding for the practice staff, and a roll-out process personalized for each client?
  • How much are you paying?
    • Is there a Monthly Fee ? _______ , or
    • Is the portal/app included at no charge?

Missing Preventive Care Vaccines/Services

  • Does your Communications Provider Spot and Fill Gaps in Your Preventive Care Reminders? (identifying for each patient missing a reminder for one of the core/advised vaccines and services recommended by the practice’s standard of care)
    • Are these automatically added to the patient’s reminder (e.g. as “also recommended”)
    • Are these incorporated into the portal/app, so the client can see what preventive care is recommended, and which vaccines/services are currently not yet set up.
    • Is information provided to the client on each vaccine/service to explain why that preventive care item is important to the health of a patient
    • Can the messaging on the reminders be customized to provide targeted preventive care educational information?

Other Views: Client Communication — Making a Difference in Patient Health

By far the best article I’ve read in 2022 on supporting patient health through better client communication and engagement, was a 3-part piece written by Dr. Wendy Hauser and published in Today’s Veterinary Business this spring and summer.  (Dr. Hauser is founder of Peak Veterinary Consulting and a member of the Vet Partners organization of veterinary consultants.)

If you missed this series, you may want to take a look.  (or, if you read the 3 pieces, it may be worth a re-read)

Three C’s Forge Strong Bonds (#1)
How to Create Lasting Connections (#2)
How to Explain the Value and Cost of Proactive Care (#3)

Communication with clients about the importance of preventive care, makes a huge difference in the patient’s health… but, also in how connected the client feels to the practice.

Dr. Hauser outlines ways the full vet team can foster patient health by:
— Creating positive client experiences (using Culture, Communication and Consistency) and
— Actively supporting the bond owners feel with their pets.

She focuses on communicate the value of proactive care, so that clients feel more informed and more engaged with the practice team and the health of their pet.

When clients feel a strong connection with the practice and a shared commitment to their pet’s well-being, they are more likely to accept the recommendation of the vet and staff. The result is healthier patients.

Dr. Hauser continues her lifelong commitment to using client communication to foster patient health! Engaging and informing clients about the value of proactive care, as she recommends, is important not only in-clinic, but also between visits, with reminder and portal/app communication.

Other Views: Preventive Care — Strategies and Protocols for Promoting Patient Health

One of the most influential resources in the industry for promoting the preventive care of patients is the series of guides on Preventive Care published by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), in conjunction with IDEXX.

Each Preventive Care booklet has been a collection of articles from veterinarians and practice managers outline how to implement, expand and promote preventive care services, and the value of doing so.

One key piece of guidance is to fully inform and reinforce with clients the importance and value of preventive care… in vet and team communication, protocols and support materials.

Historically practices have developed and implemented preventive care protocols and plans and then communicated those protocols and plans through the services they offer and recommend to clients in-clinic and on their website. Some practices reinforce various aspects of preventive care in their in-clinic and website client education materials.

But, another untapped way to let clients know what your preventive care standards are is to incorporate them into your pet portal/app, so that clients know what you recommend as essential/advised preventive care. Some of the new portals/apps have this capability. You can then show what vaccines/services each pet has been set up for and what preventive care needs to be added. In this way you are actively promoting preventive care continuously, between visits.

Other Views: Client Communication — Boost Team Communication Skills for Happier Clients & Higher Compliance

Key Insights:

The clear consensus from numerous experts is that getting the full team onboard with key communication skills has a very strong and positive impact on client happiness and patient compliance and health! Here are some of the most helpful insights.

  • It’s About Time, The Client’s Perspective and The Power of a Question — Dr Amanda Donnelly.
    Dr. Donnelly is a veterinary client communication consultant and member of Vet Partners organization of veterinary consultants. For years she has guided hospitals, clinics and groups on practice team management and using client communication to boost pet preventive care.
  • Communication Strategies to Save Time, Support Teams, and Provide Better Care — Des Whittall.
    Des is owner of 2 veterinary clinics in Texas and a frequent contributor to Practice Life. He continually provides very practical insights on practice and team management
  • The Secret to Happy Clients — AVMA Veterinary Economics Division Staff.
    AVMA survey results show that clients place a high priority on perceived value. Their guidance is that communication choices and skills matter the most in promoting client satisfaction and adherence for optimal patient health.
  • 9 Communication Tips to Gain Client Compliance — Sarah Rumple.
    Sarah is an award winning veterinary writer and editor for the AAHA and various publications on veterinary management issues and client communication. Here she identifies specific ways to boost client adoption of vet recommendations for patient health.
  • Client Communication in a Post-Trust Era Requires a New Perspective –AVMA Melinda Larkin.
    The AVMA presents insights from Michael Maslansky on ways communication styles and messaging can shape whether clients trust and accept the guidance they receive from vets about their pets health.
  • Interactive Training Teaches Dos and Don’ts of Client Communication — AVMA.
    The AVMA provides practical training specifically on the Language of Veterinary Care, that helps veterinary teams be more successful in improving compliance and enhancing patient health.
  • Words Matter and Engaging Your Team — Partners for Healthy Pets (resources toolbox).
    Established, industry-supported guidance on boosting the effectiveness of team client communication for promoting patient health.

Informing and communicating with clients about the importance and value of preventive care recommendation has a large influence on better patient health outcomes. It starts from the face-to-face communication of the entire vet team. And, this critical messaging is reinforced by emphasizing the importance of preventive care in the between-visit communication.

Other Views: Preventive Care — It Takes a Team

Key Insights

Many veterinary experts emphasize that Preventive Care of pet patients is most effective when there is a concerted team effort. When all the team believes in the importance of preventive care protocols and communicate this to clients, then clients are far more likely to get the message and buy-in to preventive recommendations. (In addition, they are more likely to perceive that the practice cares about, and is fully committed to, the health of their pets.)

The consensus view is patient health is improved with a consistent and ongoing communication with clients about the importance of preventive care. Face-to-face interactions with vets and the full vet team is the foundation. But, communication before, after and between visits is a critical way to reinforce this messaging and build client commitment.

Easier, More Effective Client Communication

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