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Certificates Help You Stand Out

Posted By Administration, Saturday, March 16, 2019

Both professional and personal growth is highly dependent on a commitment to ongoing learning. Embracing new educational experiences can help advance knowledge and skills. For many of us, carving out time in our packed and hectic schedules to pursue these educational opportunities can be challenging, but certificate programs, which require a short term investment of time but target and build specific skills and expertise can supplement industry knowledge and experience.

Today, information, research, and innovations are proceeding at a faster pace than in the past. Materials that were stressed in a higher education curriculum ten years ago may no longer be considered the industry standard because the content is dated or obsolete. Employers want competent and experienced employees, who are trained in the latest developments in the industry and demonstrate a desire to continue to refine and update their skills and knowledge. Gone are the days when, after securing a degree, employees landed a job and advanced comfortably in their careers

Keeping current in any field or industry is enhanced by reading professional journals and publications, attending conferences and seminars and conferring with colleagues. But the learning doesn’t stop there; managers must understand, apply and integrate cutting-edge information, skills and best practices to advance and thrive. Certificate programs offer short term, flexible opportunities to bolster skills and update knowledge.

A certificate is proof that the certificant has mastered the content in a specific area and demonstrates a commitment to going that extra mile to improve, expand and grow professionally.

Veterinary managers interested in standing out, advancing their careers, or moving into new positions, would be well-served by obtaining a certificate or certification in a targeted area.

Even managers who have the educational credentials that set them apart from their peers should keep this in mind: A recent study found that approximately one-third of certificate holders also had earned an associate, bachelor or graduate degree. The findings suggest that employees are getting certificates to bolster their skills or learn new ones in a competitive job market.

Not all certificates are created equal. A certificate of participation or attendance is given to those who attend and complete a course. The certificate only indicates that the certificate holder was present during the course. This type of certificate does not require the holder to pass a test or show competency in a subject area.

Other certificate programs recognize a relatively narrow scope of knowledge in a specific area. The certificate is awarded after the certificant completes the course and receives a passing grade. An example of this is the Partners for Healthy Pets Preventive Healthcare Certificate Program.  While many veterinary professionals are using  Preventive Pet Healthcare: Your guide to becoming a Practice Champion workbook to lead the effort to increase the emphasis on preventive healthcare in practice, the certificate program provides specific instruction in ten areas designed to improve the overall way preventive healthcare is delivered in practice. To receive a certificate, participants must complete ten learning modules and score at least 90 percent on each exam.

A certificate program that builds competency in a specific area can add value to a resume, underscore a new area of expertise, and demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning.

For veterinary professionals interested in bringing preventive pet healthcare to their practices and playing a leading role, VHMA members can now receive continuing education credits at no charge when they complete the Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) Preventive Healthcare Certificate Program. Managers who complete the certificate program can apply nine (9) continuing education credits toward the CVPM certification program requirements. The credits are RACE approved.

Click for more information.

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Trust and The Opportunity

Posted By Christine Shupe, Tuesday, February 26, 2019

If you’ve been following this blog, you know about The Opportunity, which is available through Partners for Healthy Pets and can be used to improve communication between clients and staff to ensure compliance with preventive pet healthcare recommendations. After all, the goal of veterinary professionals and pet parents is to improve the wellbeing and lifespan of their furry friends and preventive pet healthcare can play a significant role in accomplishing this.


The Opportunity yields valuable information that can be even more insightful and provocative if clients who complete the survey have established a trusting relationship with the practice. When trust exists, clients feel believe they are valued by the practice and are more likely to be amenable to advice and suggestions put forth by staff.


Client trust is essential because it can drive compliance, but gaining a client’s trust requires effort. Whether the practice strives to build trust with new clients or resuscitate relationships that are on life support, common-sense, relationship-building actions can lay a strong foundation.


The road to building trust begins with the following:


Establishing credibility: Because the veterinary visit may involve interactions with several staff members when meeting a client for the first time, staff should greet patients and clients by name and introduce themselves, identify the position they hold in the practice, and briefly outline their professional responsibilities. During subsequent client visits, staff should acknowledge how good it is to see the patient and client back in the office. When clients are remembered, they feel special, are more connected to the practice, and the office visit becomes more personal, which is the foundation of a trusting relationship.


Demonstrating warm: It can be a cold world, therefore, it’s important that the practice conveys a warm vibe. Helping a client feel at ease is paramount, whether that involves offering a magazine if the wait will be longer than usual or some other small act of kindness. If the client appears to be agitated, try to uncover why and lend a hand or propose a solution. Listen and respond appropriately not only to issues involving the pet but to other issues that may impact the visit. A smile never hurts!


Letting your guard downa little: While it is important to be the consummate professional, sometimes it is necessary to be a bit less professional to get the client to relax. Sharing a brief, funny, personal anecdote shows your vulnerability and puts the client at ease. If the client is unable to relax, it’s unlikely that the relationship of trust will grow.


Practicing honesty: Honesty is a priority in all client interactions. Without honesty, there cannot be trust. Don’t fake what you don’t know, don’t promise what you can’t deliver and don’t minimize what the client deems important.


No assumptions, no judging: Making assumptions fosters a negative mindset towards others that is not always easy to conceal Negative assumptions about how clients will act or process information they receive can be a self-fulfilling prophecy that also impacts trust. Assume the best about clients.


At the core of any client/ professional relationship is trust. As staff works to establish trust, the probability that the client trusts and listen to what staff is saying increases. With a foundation of trust, The Opportunity will help to provide sharper insights into where the disconnects are in staff-client conversations. Client understanding and compliance can benefit from a solid relationship. The results obtained from The Opportunity can highlight additional work that needs to be done.


Click for more information about The Opportunity.



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Guidelines: Slice and Dice or Use As Is, but Remember to Start with a Strong Foundation

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 29, 2019

If your practice has been using the Preventive Pet Healthcare guide to becoming a PRACTICE CHAMPION workbook, you know how important it is to adopt guidelines and protocols. Guidelines put everyone on the same page when you are implementing preventive healthcare. If the practice hasn’t adopted preventive healthcare guidelines for cats and dogs, don’t panic! There are resources that you can consult to get you started. AAHA/AVMA offers canine and feline guidelines that can be adopted as is, embellished or used as a starting point.


Begin by reviewing available guidelines. Even if the practice has developed guidelines, it can be helpful to compare them to others that are available. This exercise will help determine whether existing guidelines are satisfactory or should be refreshed.


Whatever guidelines the practice chooses to adopt, the implementation will be enhanced by taking a few preliminary actions:


  1. As the team starts to discuss guidelines, be sure owners and top managers in the practice are on board with the process to lend credibility to the effort.
  2.  Keep in mind that the most important person in this initiative is the person who is responsible for organizing and executing. The team member who is responsible for leading this effort should have support and resources necessary to ensure that the execution is successful. For example, is adequate meeting space available for the team, are team members encouraged to participate and attend meetings and is information readily available to all team members?
  3. Identify team members who are enthusiastic about adopting and implementing the guidelines and consider identifying them as “go to” staff during the implementation process. Their knowledge, understanding, and enthusiasm will help to energize the team and increase buy-in among staff. 
  4. Generate excitement for the adoption and implementation of the guidelines. Posters reminding staff to adhere to the guidelines and inspirational wrist bands with slogans encouraging staff to promote guidelines are examples of ways to motivate staff. 
  5. Remember that your staff is unique: some learn faster than others, and some take a longer time to feel comfortable with new material. Make provisions to respond to the various needs of staff and do not expect them to be proficient with the guidelines simultaneously.
  6. Finally, the guidelines are part of a larger strategy to ensure the health of your patients. Reinforce this to staff so that their actions become second nature. It is essential that they view the guidelines as a strategy rather than a checklist.

PHP offers a suite of tools that motivate and align the entire practice team around preventive healthcare protocols


Additionally, VHMA’s Champion’s Workbook for Preventive Pet Healthcare provides a step-by-step process to increased emphasis on preventive healthcare in your practice. It includes tips from getting support from your practice leadership to developing effective ways to roll out plans to the entire staff. You can use this workbook to help your team become aligned with your practice’s philosophy and speak with one voice. Let this workbook be your roadmap to making a difference with your patients, clients, practice, team and you.  


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Messaging for Action

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Pointers for motivating inactive clients
Every practice has them… clients who ignore and miss heartworm shots, fail to schedule annual checkups or wellness visits and, in general, meet your requests for action with crickets.


Are clients who fail to act after receiving reminder notices for the veterinary practice irresponsible pet owners? Of course not! There are a host of reasons why they may not be incommunicado: financial, logistical and personal. But the truth may be that your reminder messages are just not resonating with them or inspiring them to take action.


A Purina survey of dog owners published in July 2018 revealed: 95% of dog owners view their pet as part of the family, 62% report that their canine buddy helps them de-stress and 55% credit their pooch for offering emotional support. It appears that the emotional connection between owners and their pets is deep and practices should factor this in as they craft their messages.


In life, whether you are dealing with clients, neighbors, friends, family or kids, the power of your message depends on how well you can tap into the recipient’s psyche. If you’ve ever had to ask a teen to do something, you understand what I mean. Remind a teen to complete a chore and you might be met with a nod, eye roll and then… inertia. However, if you explain why it must be done and the ramifications of not doing it --- hopefully --- the message will elicit action.


Moving beyond the predictable

It’s essential that practices review the messages they send to clients. Reminders that consist of no more than a curt statement are less likely to shake the recipient out of his lethargy and lead to action. It’s also reasonable to conclude when a practice issues a perfunctory reminder, it will yield no more than a glance from the client and may even be tossed in the trash immediately.


There are, however, actions that can improve the quality of your messaging and increase client compliance.
The first is to ensure that your client communications appeal to clients and the bond they have with their pets. Consider how much more effective it is to receive a reminder that recognizes the client’s love for their pet and their desire to maintain a long and healthy relationship with it. Starting the message by acknowledging the bond and engaging the client, allows the narrative to segue way into reinforcing the connection between preventive care and compliance and well-being and longevity.


Practices should also evaluate the methods used to communicate with clients. Some clients may respond to traditional methods, such as postcards and phone calls, whereas the message may be ignored by those who prefer mobile-friendly digital messaging, such as texts or emails.

While employing multiple communication components such as text, email, manual postcards and phone calls, may address all preferences, it is essential that the client not be made to feel like he is being bombarded with information from the practice.


For additional information on how to reengage clients, Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) has devised an Inactive Client Re-engagement Reminder Program that has been shown to be highly effective in bringing lapsed clients back into the practice. What makes the PHP program different from other re-engagement efforts is that it takes into account a client’s visitation history and the messages that managers can use, which focus on empathetic messages to inspire clients to reengage.


Build the right message and your clients will come back!


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Forward Booking: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The VHMA November 2018 Insiders’ Insight survey revisited “forward booking,” a topic that was previously addressed in 2014. The big surprise? There has been little change in the number of respondents forward booking medical progress exams and/or preventive care exams over a four year period!


A quick Google search for “veterinary forward booking” returned more than a million results, with many articles listed in the initial five pages showing a publication date or 2017 or 2018. Despite the amount of real estate devoted to the topic, we are seeing only slight increases in the number of practices that have embraced forward booking.


Even with the publication of, Preventive Pet Healthcare: Your Guide to Becoming a Practice Champion, a practical guide that leads reader through a step-by-step process to increase the emphasis on preventive healthcare and highlights techniques for implementing forward booking, the needle has not moved significantly.


To glean insights into the barriers to implementation, the responses contained in the Insiders’ Insight report are revealing and seem to fall into three broad mindsets. These include: risk aversion, glass half empty thinking, and destined for failure.


Fear of taking a risk


Many of us have grown up with popular phrases that encourage the status quo…”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” “Don’t reinvent the wheel,” and “Leave well enough alone,” are just a few examples of the way we are conditioned to stick with what works (sort of) rather than risk experimenting with an approach that is outside the normal way of doing business. Some respondents noted that because staff is reluctant to try forward booking, it has not been implemented.


While it’s important to be mindful of the consequences of our actions and policies, fear---whether it is expressed by staff, the owner or clients--- is not a compelling reason to disregard a best practice. Replace fear by focusing on the benefits of forward booking to patients, clients and the practice.


The glass half-empty thinking


Several respondents indicated that they had not utilized forward booking because of issues with appointment calendars and DVMs schedules.  Admittedly, these are obstacles, but we caution managers not to admit defeat without taking a harder look. If your focus is only on what’s wrong, it will be difficult to move forward because most endeavors are fraught with some type of obstacle. If you haven’t implemented forward booking because the stars are not in alignment, it is time for an attitude adjustment.  When you see it as half-full you are more likely to seek solutions that will fill the cup to capacity.


Once a failure, forever a failure


Finally, several respondents reported that their efforts to implement forward booking were not successful. If the first attempt did not have the intended results, rather than abandoning the initiative, it’s more constructive to revisit the approach and figure out why it didn’t work. An honest, unbiased evaluation can effectively pinpoint problems that may have occurred, allowing revisions that can increase the effectiveness of the strategy and the likelihood of success.


For suggestions about how to implement forward booking successfully, comments provided by Insiders’ Insight survey respondents offer a great starting point.


VHMA’s Preventive Pet Healthcare: Your Guide to Becoming a Practice Champion is a solid, practical, easy to use resource for practice leaders who are seeking to implement forward booking. Check out the Partners for Healthy Pets website for a roadmap, tools, and success stories.


Be brave, be positive and accept the challenge of moving forward with forward booking!


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Creating a Feline-Friendly Practice

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green.” Being green may be challenging, but consider life as a cat. According to recent studies:

  • About a quarter of all adult cats are overweight. (Banfield 2014)
  • Since 2009 the number of cats with FIV has increased 48%. (Banfield 2014)
  • In the past five years, arthritis in cats has gone up by 67%. (Banfield 2013)
  • Kidney disease is 7 times more likely in cats than in dogs. (Banfield 2013)

At a time when feline health issues are increasing, feline veterinary visits declined by 4.4%. Unfortunately, the decline in veterinary visits is not that startling given that another Banfield study found that 58% of cat owners believed that their cats hate going to the veterinarian and 38% said that they stress even thinking about a veterinary visit. The drama and stress of the veterinary visit---whether real or perceived---suffered by felines and their owners is an obstacle to providing quality care to cats and one that veterinary practice must confront in order to remove the barriers to preventive care and treatment.


When owners neglect to schedule timely visits and follow preventive healthcare guidelines, they are failing their beloved companions. Preventive healthcare is the key to maintaining wellbeing and recognizing and treating diseases and medical conditions before they cause irreparable damage.


The VHMA/Partners for Healthy Pets protocols highlighted in this blog can be applied to treating feline patients, but there is a caveat. To become a Preventive Pet Healthcare Practice Champion for cats, practices must consider and address the unique needs of felines.


Felines are cats; not small dogs. Creating a welcoming environment for feline patients that reduces the stress and anxiety associated with the veterinary visit is at the heart of ensuring that clients embrace preventive healthcare.


Practices that want to design a cat friendly environment that is inviting and responsive to the needs of felines and their owners can advance their knowledge and acquire essential information by visiting the Partners for Healthy Pets website.


The site is a bonanza of feline-specific resources, tools and information. Many of the resources have been created by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) ---an organization dedicated to the health and welfare of cats---and address the full spectrum of feline issues including: how to become a certified cat friendly practice, information about effective cat handling techniques, feline-centric webinars and special collateral materials for cat owners. For practices learning to navigate the world of the feline patient, the site focuses on the unique characteristics and needs of cats and provides practical advice for using this information to better serve felines so that they may benefit from preventive pet healthcare.


Short “how-to” videos created by the CATalyst Council are also available and can be used to help guide the practice through cat handling techniques and life stage needs.


For practices committed to creating an environment that is non-stressful for both the cat and owner in order to promote a stronger awareness of the need for preventive pet healthcare to better health for our feline friends, taking inventory of the resources and tools available on the Partners for Healthy Pets website is an important first step. The site contains information that is essential for transforming the practice and communicating this commitment and concern to patients and clients.


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When Communicating with Clients, Take Your Cues from Dancers

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 17, 2018

Have you ever wondered why certain dances are referred to as social dances? Rumba, Tango, Salsa and Foxtrot all rely on nonverbal communication to create a rapport between partners. Effective client communication is an integral component of becoming a Practice Champion. Although we’ve addressed client communication in past blogs, this month we’ll begin by addressing the nonverbal aspects of communicating the importance of preventive pet healthcare to clients because effective communication---whether it’s on the dance floor or in the office---is to a significant extent, nonverbal.

Ready, set, face your partner

When preparing to approach a client to discuss preventive pet healthcare, prior to uttering a single word, think like a dancer. While dancers practice their steps to improve muscle memory to achieve mastery, by familiarizing yourself with these nonverbal behaviors and their impact on the client, Practice Champions will be better prepared to employ them to enhance the Preventive Pet Healthcare conversation.

Face the client: Your posture should indicate that you are there for the client. If you are involved in an activity while simultaneously speaking to the client or if you are diverting your eyes to activity around you, you are constructing a barrier between you and the client.  

Be open to the client: Although you may be open-minded and responsive to what the client is saying, your body position may give a different impression. Crossed arms and/or crossed legs may suggest to the client that you are opposed to what they are saying.

Maintain eye contact: When attempting to convey to a client the importance of preventive healthcare, few behavior are more off-putting than failing to look the client in the eye. When you don’t focus on the person you are speaking with, you risk appearing disinterested and insincere.

Relax: Ask a trusted colleague for feedback about how you present yourself to others. Do you exhibit nervous traits that may impede communication? If you roll your eyes, tap your foot, drum your fingers, it is critical that you banish these tics from your repertoire if your goal is to be a better communicator.

Focusing on the above-mentioned nonverbal behavior can have a significant impact on improving communication, but there are several other points to consider:

Avoid clichés: When you talk to a client about Preventive Pet Healthcare, make a conscious effort to not respond to their concerns with clichés. Make sure you are hearing what the client has to say and that your responses are directly related to any concerns voiced.

Be empathetic: If a client shares a concern do not repeat or parrot that concern. Compose a response that demonstrates that you understand and are processing their comment.

Maintain your composure: The client may not be understanding what you are saying and you may be frustrated. Better to give the client time to think about the conversation and revisit it later rather than to push too hard to make a point.

To further strengthen your communication skills and for more insights into how to promote Preventive Pet Healthcare in your practice, consider looking into the Partners for Health Pets Preventive Healthcare Certificate Program. The program consists of 10 Learning Units that highlight the tools and resources that are essential to effectively discussing the values and benefits of Preventive Pet Healthcare.

In the meantime, continue to practice your moves. Like any great dancer, practice makes perfect!

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Is Your Digital Presence Furthering Preventive Pet Healthcare?

Posted By Christine Shupe, Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fostering a social media presence to educate clients about the value of preventive pet healthcare is an important component of the Preventive Pet Healthcare workbook. There are many advantages to incorporating social media into your practice and it can be effective in changing mindsets and encouraging clients to be more proactive about a pet’s health and care.


Like many things, social media is great, until it’s not great. When is it not great? The impact of social media is diluted when it becomes inefficient and time consuming for the practice and an annoyance for the client. To prevent social media from adversely impacting your efforts and the practice, we’ve identified the issues that often interfere with a business’ efforts to use social media effectively.


Whether you are developing a social media presence or have been an enthusiastic user of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, by considering the points below as you educate and connect with your clients through various platforms the potential for building stronger relationships and providing clients with good information increases.


Posting too many times on a daily basis


If I told you that studies demonstrate that multiple, daily postings do not necessarily result in favorable results, would you breathe a sigh of relief? Well go ahead, take that breath because research show that less is more! When postings are too frequent, there’s a risk that the content becomes white noise---it’s there but clients aren’t paying attention.


Posting successfully means that you are judicious about the posts. Focus on preparing one very good post or find something impactful on the internet and post it. This is the content that will resonate with your clients. For a more thorough understanding of what works, study likes and comments to past posts for a better sense of what moves your clients.


Navigating without a map

It’s an oldie, but still a goodie: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” Without a social media plan, you may be expending energy that is not necessarily taking you in the right direction. After determining what you hope to with social media, it’s time to move forward with the specifics. The plan need not be elaborate but it should contain references to which social media platforms you will use, the type of content that is important to clients, posting schedule and a component to review the effectiveness of the strategy.

 You are an island

You have an account but you are not following other related accounts. Quick…find accounts to follow and like content. This give and take is what will make your social media presence vibrant and active.

 Too much already!!

You are trying to be on too many social media sites and don’t have the staff or content to maintain a presence. Don’t dilute your efforts. Select as many sites as are reasonable given your resources.

With a little thought and forward thinking, social media can play a vital role in furthering your preventive pet healthcare goals.

For free Internet Marketing & Social Media resources be sure to check out the Partners for Healthy Pets website.

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The Art of the Huddle

Posted By Christine Shupe, Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hey team, let’s huddle around to discuss communication!



Football is one of the best examples of the transformative power of the huddle. We’ve all seen these impromptu meetings on the field. Players gather, look each other in the eye and plot their attack on the opposition---all within a matter of seconds! Once play resumes, the game can change dramatically.


Whether on the field or in the conference room, the huddle is a useful communication tool because it promotes time-limited, direct, person-to-person contact.


Among preventive pet healthcare advocates, the Preventive Pet Healthcare workbook is a comprehensive resource for guidance, tips and strategy. Convincing pet owners to embrace preventive care is largely contingent on communication that promotes understanding.


Complementing the step-by-step process outlined in the workbook are scripts and education strategies available on The Partners for Health Pets website that can be used to refine and enhance communication.


As Champions review, adapt and implement scripts and client education strategies, they should also plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the approach being used. Brief, informal huddles with relevant team members encourage feedback on the message being conveyed to clients in a timely manner in a setting where all who communicators are given a voice.


To view a video created by PHP on how to organize a huddle, go to:


Even if you’ve never played football, you have likely participated in a number of work-related huddles so you can understand their importance. Below is a list of suggestions for hosting a huddle that will leave the team feeling energized.


Elements of a great huddle

  1. Be sure the meeting is face-to-face and that all key players are involved in order to receive comprehensive feedback.
  2. Select a convenient time, day and location and try to minimize distractions. Scheduling a huddle at the end of the day when players are mentally ticking off what needs to get done before they leave may make engagement challenging.
  3. Keep the meeting brief…about 15 minutes.
  4.  Prior to the huddle, let the team know what will be discussed. Keep a checklist handy to be sure you cover what needs to be addressed.
  5. Identify roles ahead of time. Who is the quarterback? Is there someone else who should be leading the discussion? Iron out the details prior to the meeting so the team can focus on the business at hand.
  6. The huddle is not a status or planning meeting. It is simply a quick evaluation of the priority item, which allows staff to quickly state their concerns and provide input.
  7. All team members should have a chance to speak.
  8. Standing is a great idea. It literally keeps participants on their toes and ensures the meeting doesn’t run too long.

Huddles provide opportunities to receive constructive feedback and respond to issues. They can become useful platforms for making improvements and field testing initiatives. They also can improve the team culture, strengthen relationships and finesse client communications for a small, targeted investment of time.


Now, what are you waiting for? Hut, Hut, Huddle!



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Planning to improve communication

Posted By Christine Shupe, Monday, June 25, 2018

Effective communication is the foundation of a strong and trusting professional-client relationship. In fact, it may be as important as the quality of care provided by a practice. While a team can be technically gifted, if the client does not feel respected, listened to and informed about their pet’s care, it can result in unhappy clients who are less inclined to comply with the practice’s recommendations. Although effective communication may not be a panacea for all the challenges that the healthcare team and client struggle with, it can position the team for more productive encounters with clients.

Consultants in the area of improving communication in the healthcare setting identify these issues as ones that should be considered when evaluating or developing a practice communication strategy.

Focus on empowering the client: The relationship between healthcare staff and client is one of imbalance---the healthcare team has the medical expertise and the client is the pet parent. Communications that take place in the healthcare setting should always involve give and take. The healthcare team should make every effort to invite the client into the conversation and listen to the insights and information provided.

Manage client expectations: An integral component of communicating effectively is managing expectations. Clients whose pets receive a clean bill of health and an appointment to return in a year should have a clear understanding that they have an impact on their pet’s health and complying with preventive care protocols is the best way to ensure their furry friend remains healthy and happy. Should the client’s compliance become lax, they cannot realistically expect that the pet’s good health is guaranteed.

Make it a point to make the team a font of information: Thanks to the internet, information is everywhere. What you don’t know or didn’t hear correctly can be googled. The healthcare team can minimize confusion if they are clear about what is occurring during the visit, repeating and rephrasing information and giving the client an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. The goal is to set up a protocol for dispensing information so that when the visit is over, the client does not have to search other sources for information.

Because professionals---regardless of their areas of expertise---have a tendency to overestimate their ability to communicate effectively, tools that offer an unbiased representation of the effectiveness of the communication that occurs during the office visit are helpful. The Opportunity---the online survey tool from Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) is one such tool. The Opportunity tool helps uncover communication disparities between what the healthcare team says and what the client hears. The site also provides scripts, videos and other supporting materials useful when creating your communication plan. 


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