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Frequently Asked Questions: Marketing

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How can I make sure everyone in our practice can speak effectively about our telehealth efforts?

Your Telehealth Champion should keep staff members informed about the services being offered, and any changes to those services. This can be done by circulating staff memos, creating scripts for support in answering specific questions (Figure 5), or developing lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs) with answers for distribution. Everyone loves success stories and you will need quotes for testimonials to support your marketing, so ask the staff to share these with your Telehealth Champion as well. Again, be sure to respect client and patient confidentiality and that you have obtained permission to use your clients’ comments in any marketing material.

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?

I've never done video sessions and wonder how I can convey a good “webside” manner during a telehealth visit. I want to be the person my clients will feel confident in and comfortable with.

Before you start seeing patients and communicating with clients using video consultations, put the video in record mode and rehearse in front of the camera. Play it back to see how you come across. It may take several rehearsals before you feel at ease. It can be harder to exude warmth and create a personal connection when body language clues are limited. Show your client you’re listening by nodding every so often when they are speaking. Make eye contact by looking into the camera lens, not at the client image on the screen. When you have to look away to consult a record, be sure to let your client know and ask permission as a courtesy. Watch for visual clues from your client and be mindful of the ones you are expressing. After your first few sessions, review the exam videos to see what you might want to improve, but know that as with anything else, you will naturally get better with practice.

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.