Therapeutic food for thought

Therapeutic food for thought

Designate a nutrition advocate to improve client compliance with therapeutic diets—and your bottom line.
Jan 01, 2010

During these tough economic times, veterinary practices need to look for ways to grow their revenue. One key opportunity is to increase your therapeutic diet sales. If you've promoted these products halfheartedly in the past because of low client compliance and profitability, don't tune me out yet. These issues can be corrected when you educate clients thoroughly and market the diets correctly.

To help you embrace nutrition as an essential part of your medical practice, create a "nutrition advocate" position on your team. Choose an employee who's well educated about the therapeutic diets you carry and who can serve as liaison between doctors and clients.

When you prescribe a new diet, have this team member follow up a few days later to see if the client has any questions. Also, ask the team member to develop a reminder program so clients stay on track with the diet and schedule follow-up exams and diagnostics as needed.

The value of an in-depth nutrition program is huge for patient care as well as for the practice. Improved compliance with your dietary recommendations results in many more visits to the clinic—for picking up food, yes, but also for medical and diagnostic care. For example, take a patient that's undergone surgery to remove bladder stones. In the past, many of my clients would eventually revert to their old feeding habits, putting their animals at risk for recurrence.

To prevent this, we now follow up with these patients regularly, ensuring that they're still eating the proper food and that they come in for blood work, urinalysis, and abdominal radiographs every six to 12 months. In other words, we're providing great medicine that's good for the health of the practice, too.

Diet sales result in repeat visits and income for the practice, but the spinoff from associated medical and diagnostic care is where increased compliance really pays off. Developing a nutrition advocate on your team will increase compliance, help your bottom line, and raise your quality of medicine—in good times and bad.

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