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.
- 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!!
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.
Compliance, obviously, directly impacts patient health. But, while there is consensus on communicating the importance of preventive care, suggestions vary on the best ways to promote patient vaccine and service compliance.
Two keys are mentioned most: (1) provide the client with full information, so they know what vaccines and services are recommended and when they are due, and (2) make sure members of the vet team are in alignment in communicating the value of preventive services for the health of patients… so clients come back in to get the vaccines and services recommended.
- 6 Tools That Improve Client Compliance in 2022 — Dr. Kate Boatright.
Dr. Boatright recommends engaging clients between visits with a practice app/portal, so that clients are more informed about upcoming vaccines and services. She also recommends forward booking, Med auto-ship programs and longer acting medications to get patients the care needed. She suggests considering telemedicine to supplement/expand patient care access, and pet insurance (we would add wellness plans) to lower financial barriers to care compliance.
(note: Dr. Boatright is one of the leading advocates for Spectrum of Care initiatives, to lower the financial barriers to veterinary patient care. See recent AAHA articles from Oct 22 and Nov 22)
- Seven Strategies to Improve Vaccine Compliance — Wendy Myers.
Wendy is founder of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians a communication training firm. She recommends (a) providing 5 reminders to make sure the client books, (b) telling clients about the vaccines/services recommended during booking, (c) previewing vaccines/services to be done at the start of the visit, and (d) having the vet reinforce the value of protocols during the exam.
- Training Your Team to Help with Client Compliance — Des Whittall.
Des, in his usual practical approach, points to 3 key reasons clients don’t comply: (1) Lack of understanding — simplify and focus the explanation of recommendations, (2) Lack of trust — get all team members clear on consistent prevention protocol messages they use with clients, (3) Perceived lack of value — make sure the client understanding how the vaccine/service directly affects the patients health. The key element, Des says, is training the vet team so they are confident in communicating with clients, because they have knowledge and practice discussing preventive care and the importance of compliance.
- How to Increase Compliance of Pet Owners: Understanding the Human-Animal Bond — Marshall Liger.
Marshall is the hospital administrator (CVPM) for 3 practices in South Carolina and the founder of Liger Veterinary Consulting. He outlines 4 tips to improve pet owner communication and compliance, based on the recent study from the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), that shows the more connected the pet owner feels to their pet and to the practice/staff, the more likely they are to follow the vet’s health recommendations. (1) know which pet owners are most engaged with their pets health (and foster engagement of all clients), (2) train the vet team to engage the owner on the importance of pet health, (3) assess how well the practice is communicating the importance of preventive health compliance to clients, and (4) track compliance improvement for preventives, vaccines, dental and diagnostics.
- 7 Simple Ways to Increase Client Compliance — TeleVet Blog.
Practical steps to promote compliance focused around clear communication of information with clients, that is proactive and easily accessible.
- 5 Ways to Improve Veterinary Client Compliance — Mixlab Blog.
Another list advocating simple, clear communication of information. They recommend leveraging of portal/app technology to engage clients between visits.
The most crucial element of encouraging clients to get the vaccines, tests and services their pet needs, is clear communication of information about what is needed and why it’s important to keep their pet healthy. This takes place in-clinic with face-to-face interaction with the staff and the vet. But, it also can be reinforced before, after and between visits with easy, preventive-care-focused communication in reminders and the pet portal/app. (e.g. getting client’s attention )
There are many views about the best way to boost compliance with a combination of reminders, what reminders, how many, what timing, apps/portals, whether to include forward booking, appointment confirmations, online scheduling. The best client communication system is the one each practice can customize for their particular communication preferences, and the one that clearly tracks your patients’ compliance and your practice performance.