Online maps help veterinarians educate clients about local parasite risks
This spring, veterinarians can effectively convey to clients the risks of parasite infection in their geographic regions using parasite prevalance maps and forecasts from the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC).
The tools, which the CAPC released in 2012, enable veterinarians to show clients continuously updated parasite prevalence maps and forecasts in their areas, emphasizing to clients that their pets are at risk for parasite infection. Users can dig into the data even further by choosing between local infection statistics for tick-borne disease agents, intestinal parasites, or heartworm.
“By using these maps, veterinarians have the ability to make the parasite conversation local and relevant,” said I. Craig Prior, BVSc, CVJ, CAPC veterinary board member. “My clinic staff can help clients understand the risk of parasitic disease in our immediate area in the past 30 days.”
Although the CAPC recommends year-round parasite protection, Chris Carpenter, DVM, executive director of CAPC, said the online tools are especially useful during the spring when there is a heightened parasite risk.
“As some types of parasites emerge from dormancy, eggs hatch and grow into infective larvae to which our pets may be exposed. Being prepared for the onslaught of this season is important - and the parasite prevalence maps and forecasts can help us evaluate the magnitude of the risk which our patients, and their owners, face,” Carpenter said.
Tips for veterinarians to use the tools
In addition to being an effective educational aid, veterinarians can use the maps to increase bring more clients in for additional services and product sales, Prior said.
“With the use of the maps, we are able to go beyond selling a flea or tick product to clients and instead, offer a service and expertise that only we can provide,” Prior said. “We also include the information about the updates and email notifications in our websites and newsletters so clients can be aware of the parasite threat in our area.”
Prior's practice also boosts its communication efforts using social media, which he said has proven effective in driving increased client interaction and visits.
“I would add that by signing up for the monthly updates, I then use social media - Facebook and Twitter - to alert my clients to what is happening locally now, the associated risks, and also link to the maps. We then have clients calling us to continue this conversation, thereby improving not only client education, but also patient care. Clients then often schedule appointments, whether it be for intestinal parasite screens, heartworm tests, or just to come in to buy the appropriate products their pets need,” Prior said.
According to Carpenter, the feedback CAPC has received from veterinarians who use the maps has indicated that they are enthusiastic about the ability to bring in more clients while also protecting the health of more pets.
“We have been very pleased to hear the success stories from our veterinary partners,” Carpenter said. “Some have mentioned how they have been able to refer to the maps when educating their clients of the importance of parasite preventatives; others have told us the added value of personalization to their patients has helped increase their client base. Some of the best feedback we have received has been from veterinarians and their staffs who feel as though our recommendations have helped them to minimize the risk of infection and zoonotic disease transmission in their communities.”