To improve client compliance, focus on scheduling appointments and work as a team to ensure that pet owners fully understand what care their pet needs.
If client compliance is low at your practice, in may be related to an ineffective reminder system. The reminder system is the foundation for scheduling wellness appointments for pets. Evaluate the practice reminder system and make sure it is achieving the desired goals of informing clients when services are due and prompting clients to take action to schedule appointments. Whether you use an outside service or you do reminders in-house, look at weekly or monthly reports to evaluate your client response rate to reminders. Make sure clients receive 3 reminders. Ideally, the first 2 reminders should be sent via regular mail or email and the third reminder should be a personal phone call. Assign team members to make reminder calls and follow-up to ensure that calls are completed by a specific deadline. Let staff know how important reminder calls are to ensure that pets receive the care they need.
Get Organized: Define Team Member Roles
If you are organized and work as a team, clients are more likely to receive consistent client education messages and to understand the value of your services which will result in greater compliance. The first step to developing an organized, team approach is to make sure everyone knows their specific roles in helping to improve client compliance. For example, client service representatives may be responsible for informing clients what services their pet is due for and giving client education brochures or questionnaires to clients. Veterinary assistants may be in charge of asking pet owners in exam rooms if they have any questions about recommended services and if they can proceed with the recommended testing such as senior screens. Technicians may be responsible for answering some questions for pet owners about the importance of specific wellness services and reinforcing or reviewing client education messages given by the veterinarian.
Measure Compliance Rates and Set Goals to Improve
Several compliance studies have been done by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-one in 2003 and one in 2009. As with the 2003 study, the 2009 study revealed that owner compliance with recommendations for wellness services such as vaccines, heartworm testing, heartworm preventives, dentals and senior screens is still not nearly as good as it should be and often lower than practices realize. The 2009 study by AAHA is documented in two publications, “Compliance: Taking Quality Care to the Next Level;” and its companion publication, “Six steps to Higher Quality Patient Care” which are excellent tools for the practice to use to improve compliance.
To improve client compliance for wellness services, start by calculating your current compliance levels. You can do this by running reports on your practice management software. Look at the compliance rates for the past year or year to date figures. See how many of your active patients received the services they were due for or how many patients came in for a particular service compared to the number of reminders sent. Once you know your actual compliance levels, you can assess how your team is doing and set goals to improve. You may find that compliance is much lower than you thought. Regardless of the percent compliance you calculate, there is almost always room to improve.
When setting a goal to improve, choose a number that is both motivating and realistic for your team. For example, if your current compliance for fecals is only 30%, you might set a goal to increase compliance to 50%. To reach this goal, consider what action steps can be taken by the team to ensure that more pets have a fecal test as recommended. This may include reminding clients to bring in a stool sample when they make appointments and sending home paid fecalizers with pet owners.
Clients are more likely to comply with treatment and wellness recommendations if they understand the value of veterinary services. Train all team members to be able to explain services to pet owners in lay terms and to be able to convey at least one or two benefits of the service.