People value timely, relevant, and consistent communications more than ever during times of crisis like the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Given how quickly things change each day, your practice may feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin to best communicate to your clients, or even what to say. To help you in this time of uncertainty, here are LifeLearn’s best practices for client communications during COVID-19:
Website Best Practices
Make an announcement on your website
Even if it’s business as usual at your practice, make this message clear for your clients and give them a place to check back regularly for updates. In times of confusion and ever-changing circumstances, people find reassurance in anything that indicates normalcy. So, providing people with a simple “business as usual” message in times of crisis fundamentally amounts to good public service.
Create a dedicated resources page on your website
People fear being cut off from resources during crises. To help mitigate this for pet owners, create a dedicated website page featuring available online pet health resources. For WebDVM clients, we recommend:
- Pet Health Checker (available with WebDVM Plus and Pro): Providing pet owners with a reliable way to check pet health symptoms online and determine urgency, Pet Health Checker helps reduce unnecessary person-to-person contact by helping pet owners determine if symptoms require immediate attention, or if they can continue to monitor symptoms at home.
- Prescription & Food Request Forms (available with all editions of WebDVM): Online prescription refill and food request forms can enable your practice to have food and medications ready, and allow your team to schedule a time to deliver those items to a social-distance location like a parking lot.
- Weekly news for pet owners (available with all editions of WebDVM): LifeLearn is updating its weekly news (automatically posted to WebDVM websites) with timely, accurate information about the new coronavirus and what it means for our pets.
- Practices with our client education resource ClientEd can share our handouts on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Canine Coronavirus to keep pet owners educated and minimize any confusion between SARS-CoV-2 and CCoV. All practices can also share our free blog post, Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Your Pet, available on our website to answer pet owner questions about the risks of their pets contracting or spreading the new coronavirus.
Tip: Improve the user experience by directly linking your homepage announcement to the Pet Health Checker and your practice phone number.
Effective Use of Your Client Communications Software
With COVID-19 impacting the hours and operations of businesses around the clock, it’s important to keep pet owners in the loop as things change at your practice. Practices using ALLYDVM client communication + retention software can use ALLYDVM’s mass communication emails to quickly provide clients with the latest updates regarding your practice policies, hours, procedures and more.
Here’s a particularly important message to get out right now
While coronaviruses can infect animals, there is currently no evidence that pets or other domestic animals can be infected with COVID-19. Further, there is no evidence that pets could be a source of infection to people. Many pet owners, however, do not know this.
LifeLearn appreciates how busy you must be right now. To help your practice get the word out to clients, LifeLearn has created a free ALLYDVM email template—“The Facts About Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Pet”—for you to easily customize and send to your clients. Simply email [email protected] to request a copy be sent right to your ALLYDVM account.
Lastly, use the Announcements feature on the PetPage mobile app and Pet Records Portal website to direct clients to where they can find your latest clinic updates.
Effective Use of Telehealth (Tele-triage and Telemedicine)
When used correctly, teletriage and telemedicine can be an effective way to support clients remotely while simultaneously limiting your risk of exposure to COVID-19 by reducing person-to-person contact in your practice. As per the AVMA’s recent communication to veterinarians regarding COVID-19:
“With intensifying concern around COVID-19, use of telemedicine has become an important way to protect and monitor the health of veterinary patients and veterinary teams. Using telemedicine can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, because it allows veterinary patients to be appropriately triaged with only those veterinary patients that really need to be seen making the trip to the clinic along with their owners.”
LifeLearn currently offers PetNurse, an after-hours telehealth triage service that provides your clients with access to a live Registered Veterinary Technician outside of your regular clinic hours. Although PetNurse is strictly an after-hours service, the service is still an essential way to provide clients with 24/7 peace of mind for their pet health concerns.
- If a pet health concern is non-urgent, nurses can email appointment requests to your practice or fill out your online Appointment Request Forms directly through your WebDVM website or ALLYDVM links.
- If a situation is urgent, nurses can refer pet owners to the emergency animal hospital associated with your practice or, if applicable, transfer them to your on-call emergency veterinarian.
If your practice uses on-call veterinarians, the PetNurse triage ensures that only urgent health concerns are transferred live to them. In these scenarios, the the on-call veterinarian may need to provide some level of telemedicine depending on the emergency. As per the AVMA:
“Telemedicine may only be conducted within an existing veterinarian-client-patient relationship, with the exception for advice given in an emergency care situation until a patient can be seen by or transported to a veterinarian.”
Always be sure to check and follow the rules and regulations for the use of telemedicine in your jurisdiction. Also, if your veterinarians are having to work remotely, it may be beneficial to provide them with access to the veterinary medical search tool Sofie.
Accessible from anywhere that has an internet connection and from any device, Sofie provides veterinarians with instant access to the most current, trusted, and credible veterinary medical information. With over 40,000 pages from the best veterinary textbooks, journals, and conference proceedings in one powerful online library, Sofie searches multiple sources at once to deliver the most relevant and accurate results.
LifeLearn Animal Health would like to reassure its valued customers that, while some industries have been affected by COVID-19, LifeLearn’s products, services, support, operations, and resources are not affected by the outbreak.
While the LifeLearn team is working remotely as a precautionary measure against the virus (and has the infrastructure in place to do so), everything at LifeLearn is business as usual. Our cloud-based systems are specifically designed with end-to-end redundancy to deliver high levels of reliability with minimal management, and our geo-redundant computer systems ensure continued service to customers should one system go down for any reason.
During this trying time, you can rest assured that your LifeLearn products and services will continue to operate reliably, with little likelihood of significant impact, and LifeLearn is focused on being available to all customers.