Category: Client Communication

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: 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.

Promoting Healthier Pet Patients

A critical part of keeping patients healthy, beyond the medical care provided, is by motivating and engaging clients, so pets get the preventive care needed.

In-clinic communication with clients by vets and the full vet team, conveys to clients the importance of preventive care… what the practice recommended standard of care protocol is for their pet, and what is needed next to protect their pet’s health.  But, often, the client time in clinic is brief and it may be a challenge to cover everything and get the client to fully understand and retain all that vets and staff have told them.

The practice’s client communication systems, designed right, can inform and reinforce your preventive care messaging before, after and between visits.

Your client communication system is not a “cost center” to be minimized, but a direct booster of patient health and a revenue generation center.  (For every dollar spent on reminders, most practices generate at least $50-80 in revenue)

Upgrading Client Communication for Patient Health

Industry experts have pointed out key ways to improve practice communication with clients, to promote the preventive care health of patients.

Many observers stress the need to ensure that the full vet team is trained to communicate and guide clients in-clinic on the importance of preventive care for the health of their pets.  (Because time for preventive care education is often more limited than we want, in-clinic and website tools and resources can help… especially if clients can be shown which standard-of-care vaccines, tests and services are need for each of their pets.)

But, there are specific ways to upgrade client communication systems to reinforce preventive care messaging before, during and between visits:

  • Let All Clients Access their Pet Info with a portal/app, without having to download, install and use a phone app.
  • Make sure clients can book/request an appointment, and to get to their pet info, directly from each of your reminders.  This simplifies and strengthens the client’s sense of engagement with the practice and the health of their pets.
  • Use high impact reminders that have been optimized to get the attention of clients and prompt them to easily to get the preventive care needed for each pet.
  • Identify which patients are missing what preventive care vaccines, tests and services that the practice recommends as core/advised.  Fill in those gaps in preventive care reminders, either manually or by automatically including them as “also recommended”.
  • Use a client communication solution that includes an app and portal as part of the electronic reminders and does not charge an additional monthly fee.  The funds saved can be directed back to the reminders/app-portal themselves, directly benefiting patient preventive care.

One last upgrade suggestion to support the focus on patient health:  if you don’t already have it in place, start tracking (a) patient compliance and (b) the revenue generated from reminders, compared to the client communication dollars spent (your communication Return on Investment).

Easier, More Effective Client Communication

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