You are likely always striving to improve client communication, but did you know it can be quite simple?
As a long-time veterinary technician and manager in the veterinary industry, something I have noticed in almost every animal hospital is the desire to educate clients, and the struggle to easily do so. We are all in this industry because we want what’s best for animals, and an ongoing challenge is the pet owner’s understanding of what we really mean when we convey instructions and diagnoses.
Technology is always changing
And as it does, some hospitals struggle with the adaptation of new processes that might (would) make things easier, more efficient, or just better. There is often resistance to change. But I have found that when the change makes things a lot easier or better, the employees will recognize it and adopt the new process more readily. One of the areas that can always improve is client instructions/communication/education. Why not achieve this with something that almost every client has, uses, and trusts on a daily basis: their smartphone?
3 ways you can help clients use their technology to help you help the patient
1. Use their smartphone calendar to schedule medication administrations and reminders.
Routinely patients are given medications following a visit to the hospital. Whether the meds are to be given monthly (i.e. flea/tick, heartworm etc.), once a day, twice a day or whenever, go ahead and walk the client through setting those reminders in their calendar. Tip: you can use Siri or voice activation to easily access and schedule on their calendar.
This process will also help ease the client’s mind when the thought of having to remember so much becomes overwhelming. Their calendar can be a true blessing for them, and they might not think about using it on their own.
Some possible uses for their smart device calendar:
- Schedule medication administrations
- Schedule future appointments/rechecks
- Set reminders for re-ordering medications/food (if you don’t have an on-line pharmacy to schedule drop-shipping for them)
2. Have the client use their smart device to video your discharge instructions (or anything they need to reference in the future)
Again, the smart device. Most clients have smart devices at their disposal, and most of them bring them to their appointments.
Videos are a wonderful way to make sure that client instructions are not misunderstood.
Sometimes there are multiple owners/caregivers of a patient (husband/wife/family), but only one comes to pick up the pet after surgery. Having the client record the discharge instructions, especially if there are examples or demonstrations of how to do something, ensures that everyone who cares for that pet can understand the instructions. Clients can always refer back to the video as needed. This can also eliminate client calls to the hospital because they can’t quite remember what was said.
Three perfect situations for using the client’s camera
- Record all “how-to’s” for clients as they receive specific/personal instructions for the care of their pet. For example, record a video for the owner of a diabetic patient on how to pull up their insulin and give the insulin injection the way you would like them to. Record instructions for post-op care, how to soak a paw, treat a wound, give medications etc.
- Record the explanation of diagnostic results (i.e. lab results, radiographs) so others in the household can see and hear the hospital’s explanation first-hand.
- Have clients take photos of wounds healing, injuries, or any progress seen on re-checks, so the client can see the progress that is sometimes difficult to notice day-to-day.
The ability to take photos, and to easily record and play video, has now become a standard for most people. Use it to your advantage.
3. Use the client’s Siri or voice memo on their smartphone
Sometimes the client might not feel comfortable with video/photos or may have insufficient storage on their device. Client communication can still be elevated with voice memos. Most of the situations referenced above can also be recorded and communicated with a voice memo.
Siri (or any voice-command system) can be very helpful in navigating smart devices. Asking Siri to use the calendar, record a video, or make a voice memo is an easy shortcut. Clients might not think about using their own technology, but you can show them how to take advantage of it to improve their pet’s care. Suggest using a voice memo to record what you say. It might be a great place to start.
All of your employees want to help your patients
Helping pet owners understand is the key to ensuring patients get the care they need. New technology and new tools are always around the corner. Do not be afraid to try new things in your hospital. Remember, everything that is now standard was once a new idea. Your clients and employees will appreciate you for it.