As COVID-19 continues, so do two big challenges for veterinary teams when it comes to time and client communications:
- Understaffed practice teams are exhausted and overwhelmed trying to keep up with appointment demands caused by the pandemic pet boom.
- The changing nature of the pandemic means practice teams must keep clients informed about changes in hours, safety protocols, and other clinic operations.
The trouble is, the demands of the first challenge often leave teams wondering, “Where do I begin with client communications? What do I even say?”
To save practices time, here are LifeLearn’s best practices for client communications during COVID-19:
Website Best Practices
Post updates on your website
Even if your hours and protocols remain the same, let clients know on your website. In times of uncertainty, people find reassurance in anything that indicates normalcy. So, providing people with a simple “business as usual” message helps provide that reassurance. Yet make sure to encourage clients to check back regularly for new information.
Create a dedicated resources page on your website
Pandemic hoarding behavior brought home the fact that people fear being cut off from resources during a crisis. To help reduce fear and stress for clients, create a dedicated website page with available online pet health resources. For clients using WebDVM custom veterinary websites, we recommend:
- Pet Health Checker (available with WebDVM Plus and Pro): Giving pet owners a reliable way to check pet health symptoms online and determine urgency, Pet Health Checker helps minimize person-to-person contact by helping pet owners determine whether symptoms require immediate attention, or if they can continue to monitor symptoms at home.
- Prescription & Food Request Forms (available with all WebDVM editions): Online prescription refill and food request forms enable your practice to have food and medications ready ahead of time for client pickup, which helps maintain optimal practice workflow.
- Pet Insurance Information (available with all WebDVM editions): To hedge against the financial uncertainties of the pandemic, more pet owners now want information on pet insurance. Pet Insurance Information gives pet owners a reliable source of unbiased information on the value of pet insurance and the questions they need to ask prior to purchasing a policy. Pet insurance provides pet owners with financial security and empowers veterinary teams to practice the best medicine possible.
- Weekly news for pet owners (available with all WebDVM editions): Automatically posted to WebDVM websites, LifeLearn’s weekly news keeps pet owners informed with timely, relevant information about COVID-19 and what it means for pets.
- Practices with our client education resource ClientEd can share handouts on COVID-19 and pets. Ongoing uncertainty means pet owners have ongoing questions and COVID-10 and pets or may need information they’ve read but forgotten. ClientEd handouts on COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and Canine Coronavirus (CCoV) keep pet owners educated and minimize any confusion between the two. All practices can 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 COVID-19.
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 Communication Software
As things change at your practice because of lockdowns and restrictions, it’s vital to keep pet owners in the loop. Practices using the customer communication and reminder software ALLYDVM can save time by using mass communication templates to quickly provide clients with the latest updates concerning practice protocols, hours, and more.
Here’s a particularly important message to reiterate right now
While a few pets around the world have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, the evidence to date indicates those infections were the result of close contact with people already infected with COVID-19. Further, the evidence suggests pets are not a source of COVID-19 infection for people. Yet people may have forgotten this.
To help busy practices get the message out to clients, LifeLearn has created a free ALLYDVM client communication email template—“The Facts About Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Pet”—for practices to easily customize and send out. Simply email [email protected] and request a copy to be sent 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 and Telemedicine
Client communication involves both systems by which practices can communicate with clients and systems by which clients can contact practices. When used correctly, telehealth and telemedicine are an effective way for practices to support clients remotely while simultaneously reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure for practice staff.
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 Petriage, a unique, robust, and flexible telehealth solution that enables modern-day veterinary practices to seamlessly integrate virtual care while maintaining the highest standards of patient care. Designed to optimize practice operations and efficiencies through the use of PIMS integration for automatic medical record keeping, a patent-pending AI-driven teletriage tool, virtual telemedicine consultations, and automated remote monitoring, Petriage empowers veterinarians to remotely care for patients while strengthening client relationships and compliance.
Additionally, LifeLearn offers PetNurse, an after-hours telephone triage service that provides your clients with access to a live Registered Veterinary Nurse 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 situation is urgent, nurses can refer pet owners to the emergency animal hospital associated with your practice or transfer them to your on-call veterinarian.
- For non-urgent triage outcomes, the pet owner can request an appointment over the phone and bring their pet in during normal practice hours. This helps eliminate unnecessary trips to the emergency hospital, which reduces costs, stress, and inconvenience for clients and their pets while at the same time increasing appointments and retention for your practice—without the cost of hiring additional staff or extending hours of operation.
If your practice uses on-call veterinarians, the PetNurse triage ensures that only urgent health concerns are transferred to them. In these scenarios, 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.”
When using telemedicine, always make sure to check and follow the rules and regulations for the use of telemedicine in your jurisdiction. Also, if your veterinarians are working remotely, you can save them time and improve efficiency by providing them with access to Sofie.
The most advanced veterinary medical search tool on the market, Sofie provides veterinarians with instant online access to over 40,000 pages of peer-reviewed, evidence-based materials not found through Google or VIN. Accessible from any device from anywhere that has an internet connection, Sofie searches multiple sources at once to deliver the most relevant and accurate results at the point of need.
Click here to access the latest COVID-19 practice resources, or email [email protected] if you need any assistance updating your LifeLearn services to communicate with clients. We’re here to help.
LifeLearn Operations Continue Unaffected by COVID-19
LifeLearn Animal Health would like to reassure its valued customers that, while some industries continue to be impacted by COVID-19, LifeLearn’s products, services, support, operations, and resources are not affected by the pandemic. While the LifeLearn team continues to work remotely as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, 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.
- Our geo-redundant computer systems ensure continued service to customers should one system go down for any reason.
In other words, as you can rest knowing LifeLearn’s products and services will continue to operate reliably, and LifeLearn remains focused on being available to all customers.
Click here to download our complimentary COVID-19 Response Kit, with tools and resources to help your practice answer client questions about COVID-19 and pet health.