The other day I was with my friend, Dana, who works at a veterinary practice. She was retelling her experience with a client and wanted my input since I was in customer service – just not in the veterinary industry. Her tale was one of frustration, yet deeply contemplative of what the future would hold for her veterinary practice. Here is her story.
She told me that a woman (we will call her Eve) called the veterinary practice to inquire about scheduling an appointment. She told my friend she heard about the practice from a friend and was on the website but didn’t see where she could schedule an appointment.
Dana, in her typical friendly manner, told Eve that all she had to do was call in and talk to her. It surprised Dana that there was a pause, and then Eve said she wanted to schedule an appointment for her cat. After the typical questions, a date and time were agreed.
Then, Dana asked Eve to come in a few minutes early to complete paperwork. “Don’t you have a link that I can just do it online?” asked Eve. Eve seemed to become more irritated when she heard that there were papers she could download and print out – but not complete online.
My friend said things were even more difficult after Eve came into the office. First, she said she had called her old vet and asked for records to be transferred and was disappointed to hear that they had not arrived yet. Then, a few days later, she called back wanting to discuss the changes in her cat’s skin condition by doing a telemedicine visit – only to find out the practice didn’t do those and she had to come back in. The final straw came when Eve asked Dana just what kind of doctor office did they have that lacked so many of the modern technology tools!
Dana was frustrated. Her practice had the latest in medical equipment, and the team was highly trained. Yet this person was insinuating that they were behind the times and must be using old equipment, just because we weren’t digitally connected – after all, Eve’s personal doctor did those things.
Dana was now asking me what I thought about Eve’s demands. I reminded Dana about the trip our two families just took to Florida. We booked our flights online, used Airbnb for our hotel, called an Uber to drive us around, downloaded an app on our phones to make getting around the parks easier, and joked about our fitness trackers giving us fireworks for reaching our step goals before lunchtime.
Looking a bit sheepish, Dana agreed that Eve’s demands weren’t really that demanding. However, the team at the veterinary practice was very concerned about legal and ethical issues, such as data security, protection from hackers, client privacy, legality of the VCPR, sharing data, interfacing with other pet businesses, not to mention the ease (or lack thereof) of use of all those different platforms and apps.
As veterinarians, we eventually got used to the quality of our surgery being judged by the way
the incision looked and healed regardless of how competently the surgery was done internally.
Now, the quality of our practice and the depth of our caring about the pet is being judged
by the ease in which we adopt and use technology to make engaging with the pet parent
as easy as hailing an Uber or depositing a check with a picture.
-Dr. Kerri Marshall, DVM, MBA. Chief Veterinary Officer at BabelBark. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Not able to solve all the problems, I did agree that the veterinary industry was going to go through a change, and Dana’s practice could not just sit and wait for it. They needed to learn about the changes and determine how to implement change in their practice.
Later that week, Dana showed me an article that was perfect for starting the discussion at her practice. If your practice is facing the same dilemma, consider the important points presented in this article by Dr. Kerri Marshall in Veterinary Practice News and start the discussion with your team.