3 tips for making veterinary house calls
Jeremy Gransky, a Boston-area house-call veterinarian for 13 years, has co-founded a franchise for the home-visit care model called MVS Pet Care. Here are rookie mistakes he doesn’t make in the field:
1. Eye your inventory
“Be sure you're bringing with you everything that you could possibly need for any given appointment. It would do the client and the patient a disservice if you didn't have a piece of equipment or medication the pet needed, and then you needed to reschedule. Clients pay a premium for a veterinarian to come to the house.”
What does that mean? Plan your vehicle cargo for what you need at the start of every day to take care of well and sick pets. Then, keep a running tally throughout the day and be sure to restock.
2. Draw up a plan for a good day
“You need to plan your day as well as possible. Come up with a schedule that’s efficient. I'm certainly not a fan of the cable company’s four-hour window for appointments. We want to give our house-call clients as close a time as possible. In order to do that, you have to have a handle on your schedule and where you'll be.”
That process, says Dr. Gransky, starts weeks before a wellness appointment as his phone team plans a day for one of the doctors. The team uses one to two anchor appointments booked way in advance to create a circuit through a doctor’s service area, so if something happens and a sick pet needs to be seen, it should fit in somewhere along the route. They can estimate how much time each appointment should take based on the patient information and the individual characteristics of the client. (“Is it a little ol’ lady who loves to talk? Work in some extra time,” Dr. Gransky says.)
3. Ask questions early
“Get as much information as possible ahead of time. We always request a new patient's previous records, because we want them in the doctor's hands as far ahead of the visit as possible to know exactly what that pet might need at that visit.”
Are there issues we need to keep in mind to make the visit go smoothly?
Does the cat get stressed? Maybe you can ask the client to confine it to a small room or bathroom, or maybe you need to arrange for a pre-visit sedative.
Could the dog be dangerous? What precautions could you take in advance? At the most extreme end, your team needs to ask questions to know whether this is a safe visit. (See “Who gets screened out?” above.)
Whether you get into business with a company like MVS Pet Care or try your hand at mobile-only or add house calls to your pre-existing brick-and-mortar hospital, plan ahead so you don’t run into a few bad experiences and bail out on a new service that pet owners may want.