Put the value back in the office visit

Put the value back in the office visit

You miss out on a golden opportunity to bond with veterinary clients when you speed through a physical exam.
May 01, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

A movie theater isn’t the only spot in town people can get a 3-D experience these days. According to Dr. Marty Becker, a nationally known speaker, author, and Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member, your clients should get a similar interactive experience every time they bring their pet in for a physical exam.

“I want pet owners to see, touch, hear, and smell everything,” Dr. Becker says. “We’re in this 3-D movie together. I tell them everything I’m doing during the exam and why.”

While it’s true that the main focus of an office visit is usually the physical examination of the pet, Dr. Becker points out that it’s also a great opportunity to bond and interact with clients.

“In my typical appointment, five minutes is just gathering information and building rapport, five minutes is the examination, and the rest is procedure, such as vaccinations, gaining acceptance of the treatment plan or client education,” Dr. Becker says.

Dr. Becker recommends starting your appointments by connecting with the client and making the pet feel comfortable. Once you begin the examination, move through every body system, from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail, walking through each step with the client and explaining your findings as you go. But consider starting at the tail and moving forward with cats, Becker says.

“We know cats are sensitive around their head,” he says. “I like to save the area they’re most sensitive about for last.”

And speaking of saving something for last, don’t overlook the importance of a full physical exam—even if the client is bringing their pet in for one specific reason. It can be tempting to cruise through the physical examination or even skip it entirely and just focus on a particular area of concern, but that’s a disservice to the pet and the client, Dr. Becker says. He makes a point of checking everything else first and only then coming back to that trouble spot, listening carefully to the client’s primary concerns about their pet’s health.

“Prioritize their needs,” he says. “If you listen without interruption, clients are more likely to accept your recommendations down the road.”

To ensure your clients are up to speed and know what’s going on during their pet’s physical exam, visit dvm360.com/physicalexam and download the free pet owner handouts.

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