Perfecting curbside care
Who can forget last March and April, when many veterinary practices turned into ghost towns due to a global pandemic? Then an onslaught of cooped-up folks went to shelters to adopt pets and suddenly needed to find a veterinarian. The soaring demands of established and new clients alike slammed into normal patient flows to create a traffic jam we still haven’t cleared.
Veterinary practices pivoted to curbside service to comply with federal and regional safety mandates. By April 2020, 84% of practices had deployed a curbside service mode.. For a profession marked by tried-and-true tradition, these upheavals were admirable adaptations to a rapidly changing world. However, a recent study out of New York confirms curbside service takes 25% longer than traditional patient workflows for most practices.
Clearly, it is time to move beyond mere survival, because . . .
Increased Volume + Decreased Efficiency = Stressed Teams + Frustrated Clients.
Break down what the current curbside model entails, and some obvious and fixable, pain points take shape:
- Clients call overloaded phone lines and often encounter long hold times.
- The check-in phone call is only the first of at least three separate phone conversations associated with each curbside visit (check-in, payment and the DVM’s discussion of findings).
- Clients do not witness the physical exam and thus either do not perceive the value of the veterinary visit, or are confused about what was accomplished.
Is there a better way to keep staff and clients sane and satisfied, as well as safe, through curbside? The answer is yes, and the key to thriving with curbside is:
- Automate the check-in and payment process through an app that frees up clinic phone lines.
- Connect with the owner during the exam through video chat.
Technology is a loaded word in our field. Most veterinarians run screaming from the building as soon as they catch a whiff of the term. You must weigh the cost of workflow chaos and burnout with the cost of a technology solution, just as you must weigh the benefit of not spending money with the benefit of improved efficiency and client bonding.
After introducing an integrated (automated workflow plus video-chat) curbside solution to his practice, Ben Bergstrom, DVM, DACVO, says, “It allowed us to greatly improve our efficiency, while still keeping everyone safe. Not to mention, our clients and their pets have been able to receive an even higher quality of care.”
As we close in on the one-year anniversary of curbside care, let us do what we do best: diagnose the problems with the current system and institute the appropriate treatment to improve the quality of our patient’s, client’s, and own lives.
Written by Holly Sawyer, DVM
About the Author: Holly Sawyer, DVM, Human-Animal Bond Certified, is a Veterinary Regional Director for GuardianVets, the only veterinary client communication technology company endorsed by AAHA. GuardianVets provides live, virtual support to veterinary practices so veterinary professionals can find work-life balance while enhancing client and patient care. Our licensed veterinary team provides triage, telemedicine, and client communication technology to hundreds of animal hospitals across North America by custom-tailoring each solution to fit individual practice needs. For more information, visit GuardianVets.
Photo credit: © valentinrussanov/E+ via Getty Images