In his first few years out of veterinary school, Dr. Jeremy Keen, associate veterinarian at North Madison Animal Hospital and Jackson Animal Clinic, both in Jackson, Tenn., saw a lot of pets with chronic disease, many of whom were on long-term medications, but few that actually returned to the clinic for recheck appointments or follow-up care. The reason? Clients weren’t fully educated about the disease, didn’t know how it needed to be treated, and didn’t understand how long they’d be invested—both emotionally and financially—in the disease management process, he says.
Realizing there was a need for more client education in this area, Dr. Keen came up with the idea to create client handouts that would detail the tests needed to confirm a diagnosis and monitor progress once treatment was underway. The handouts needed to give pet owners an understanding of the financial responsibility and time commitment they would face managing the disease as well as improve efficiency in the clinic and make everyone’s job easier.
How it works
The solution? Everyone in the clinic now plays a part in the client education experience when a chronic disease is diagnosed. Dr. Keen explains that once an initial diagnosis is made and the doctor briefly explains the disease and next steps to the client, a technician takes over and gives the clients the appropriate handouts— which cover the cost of additional tests and treatment—to review at home. A receptionist then schedules a follow-up call for the clients in a few days to discuss any questions they may have.
“A handful of clients will initially look at the handouts and be a little overwhelmed by the cost of treatment,” Dr. Keen says. “But after going home, reading the handouts, and realizing the effect the disease can have on their pet’s health, they’re much more likely to pursue the diagnostics and treatment.”
Since incorporating the handouts and this tiered approach to client education, Dr. Keen and his staff have seen the benefits of a much more efficient workflow process—not to mention a boost in client compliance. “We’ve seen client compliance increase exponentially,” he says. “When clients are fully educated about a condition and understand it, they are willing to pursue the long-term treatments.”
Head over to dvm360.com/chronicdisease to download this handout on a common chronic disease.