A Post-It. A string around your wrist. An alarm on your cell phone. There are lots of ways to remember things, but what if
you need an easy way to remember every highlight and important point about a patient's health before a visit? You could review
the entire stack of pages in the medical record. (Good luck with that.) Or you could try the compliance review form created by Dr. Robin Downing, DAAPM, owner of Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor, Colo.
Using the form
Dr. Downing says this form enables her team to gather a concise but comprehensive picture of the patient care situation. For
example, there's a place to note what information packets have been given—"We don't want to foist a senior-dog packet on clients
at every visit," she says—as well as a way to indicate parasite prevention status, diagnostic tests and results, and medications
prescribed for the pet.
"Technicians and assistants can scan the form, look for missing items, and bring those to the client's and doctor's attention,"
Dr. Downing says. "The team members lay the foundation, sometimes telling clients what the doctor will talk to them about
in the exam room."
Managing the form
One client care specialist at Windsor Veterinary Clinic is the designated form reviewer. She stays a few days ahead of appointments
and pulls charts, examining the contents of the record and relevant computerized data, such as purchase history and prescription
history. Then she completes the compliance review form before the appointment.
If the regular reviewer is absent, that's not a big problem. Nearly all staff members have been trained to understand, review,
and highlight important notes in the form.
Succeeding with the form
Dr. Downing says the form has increased client compliance and improved doctor recommendations overall, but some areas of her
practice have seen marked improvement:
> Nutrition. The team's diet recommendations now receive more attention because the sheet lists food recommendations along with the client's
> Heartworm, flea, and tick control. Parasite prevention is a priority for any practice and shows up on the form.
> Medications. The form makes it easy for the team to ensure clients are following instructions. "If we prescribed three months' worth of
a maintenance drug and the client hasn't refilled it after five months, we talk about why it's important to give it to the
dog every day," Dr. Downing says.
> Lab work. The form also helps the practice track patient diagnostics when a client chooses not to complete all wellness testing in
one visit. "When patients fall off the wellness cycle, the form makes it easier not to let lab work fall through the cracks,"
Dr. Downing says.
> Deferred care. When clients put off recommended procedures, the form notes that fact and lists the date so team members know when to follow
up and ask again.
Overall, the form has become a reflection of the practice's high-quality care. "We're serious about these recommendations,
and we convey a sense of urgency so clients know they need to be serious about them, too," Dr. Downing says. It sure beats
the string-on-the-wrist method. Wait—was that red string for a dental procedure or a senior diet?