When veterinary clients don’t follow your instructions, their pets suffer. Use these steps to lock in the care pets need.
Digital discharge instructions not only add value and demonstrate a high quality of care, they are an important document in delivering your clinical expertise and recommendations in a way that your clients will best understand.
If you think about your own experience at your healthcare providers, how much do you actually take in? Pet owners don’t necessarily have a background in healthcare and are often distracted by their pet at the vet visit. So, it is important to help set the client up with all the information they need before they leave to increase client satisfaction, compliance and most importantly to get the best pet health outcomes.
Why you should share discharge instructions
- People remember 20% of what they hear, 40% of what they read and 70% of what they see and read.
- Pet owners only take in 40% of what is said verbally.
- 80% of customers do not follow recommendations due to confusion.
- Empathy and clear written instructions results in customer satisfaction and adherence.
Making sure your clients understand the importance of patient compliance is key for two reasons: proper patient treatment and care and documentation that you shared a treatment or discharge plan with the client.
How to write discharge instructions
- Avoid veterinary jargon
- Keep your message to a few sentences
- Always forward book and confirm the next appointment in writing
1. Offer written treatment or discharge instructions. With the advent of technology, creating a treatment plan or discharge instructions for the patient is easier than ever. Using canned Word documents allows you to quickly customize and print pet care plans for the owner, or using a PMS system like Turbo Inventory which will automate all of this. Be sure the document has all pertinent information the client may need to offer the appropriate home care that you recommend. Suggestions include:
- Clinic name and number
- Name of clinician
- Name of owner and patient
- Brief summary of exam and treatments performed
- Medications sent home
- Detailed home care, including feeding and water instructions, bandage care, atypical symptoms to watch for, activity level, and so on
- Recheck information, such as if or when to return, and recommended treatments and cost, if relevant.
2. Review the instructions and medications with the pet owner. The technician or another well-trained team member will review the plan and medications dispensed in person. Not only does this double the likelihood that the pet owner will comply, it gives the technician or team member time to answer questions that may arise while discussing the instructions. Finally, don’t forget to encourage pet owners to call you with any questions.
3. Keep a copy of the treatment or discharge instructions for your records. Put a copy of the instructions in the patient file. If the owner calls with a question specific to the plan, it’s helpful as a reference. With a PMS like Turbo Inventory is this is automatically recorded and stored for at least 7 years
4. Perform follow-up phone calls for critical care or surgery patients. Receptionists and technicians can use follow-up phone calls to make sure the patient’s doing well and receiving medications properly and to lock in recheck appointments as needed. Then record these calls in the patient file. With Turbo Inventory PMS, you can set it up to automatically send email reminders to the client
While these extra steps won’t guarantee the owner will comply, taking a few extra minutes and making the visit a positive experience may help encourage greater client compliance and better patient care at home.