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External Marketing

When marketing to your clients through social media, newsletters, email blasts, fliers, blogs, or direct mail, the benefits fall into four categories:

Convenience

  • The ability to communicate asynchronously (at separate times as with texts or online forms), allows for the exchange of information at convenient moments without having missed callbacks or delays.
  • Clients can send photos, videos, or reports from remote monitors, which can be reviewed and responded to or used to identify the need for an in-person examination. This ensures rapid feedback and timely intervention.
  • Using available software technology, clients can also schedule appointments, fill out pre-examination histories, or request prescription refills when it works for them, whether that is late at night, while riding public transit, or during a break at work.
  • When a veterinarian can arrange a live teleconsult with a specialist, the veterinarian and clients can get expert advice simultaneously without having to wait. This allows for earlier intervention.

Access

  • If clients have disabilities, or they find it hard to take off work, hate traffic, live at a considerable distance, lack child care, or have a challenging pet to get into a carrier or a fragile one under hospice care, then telehealth services can help improve access.
  • When your practice leverages technicians and assistants to provide results, instructions, or patient information via phone, text, or video conferences, clients have more touchpoints with the practice, which strengthens that relationship.
  • Whether you use telemedicine to provide after-hours care or educational information, be sure to make clients aware of these opportunities.
  • Beyond the walls of your practice, you can schedule teleconsultations with various specialists. This access to specialty care can potentially benefit patient treatment, recovery, and quality of life, which has significant value.

Time and Cost Savings

The tools and touchpoints mentioned above can cut down on clients’ coming in for unnecessary appointments, saving them time and money and freeing up the practice schedule for patients that need in-person exams. Other savings potentially can come through virtual rechecks or creating subscription pricing models for clients using telehealth.

Improved Diagnostics and Patient Monitoring

Clients pay attention to technology trends happening with their own healthcare and often ask their veterinarians which of these might be appropriate for their pets. With some of the new veterinary AI-assisted diagnostic services and remote monitoring devices, there is now an opportunity to promote these to your clients as an extension of your practice’s services. The benefits of more accurate diagnoses, earlier intervention, and improved client compliance all support improving treatment outcomes for your patients and enhanced client experiences.

FIGURE 5 | Sample Script for Marketing the Benefits of Telehealth Services to Clients

When introducing new procedures to clients, lead with a clear value proposition to support their adoption.

For example: We know it’s difficult for you to get off work to bring your dog in, so how about we schedule a telemedicine appointment for you and Rex? You can send photos or a video of his surgery site to the doctor, who can see how things are healing before your virtual visit. That way, you won’t have to come in if all is OK, which will save you time. Are you available this Thursday between 10 am and noon?

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about Marketing.

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., CareCredit, and Merck Animal Health have supported the development of the 2021 AAHA/AVMA Telehealth Guidelines for Small-Animal Practice and resources through an educational grant to AAHA.