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Follow-up visits are one of the most difficult aspects of pet health care to manage for both clients and clinics. In one study, 78% of clients expected a follow-up, while only 52% received call-backs. That’s a major hole in pet care, leading to low compliance that can keep your patients from getting the care they need.
Establish Clear Reasons to Bring Their Pet Back In
If a health care issue is going to require multiple visits to resolve, make sure your client understands why. Instead of simply scheduling some appointments, have a clear care plan laid out so they know what to expect with each visit. It’s also a good idea to explain which symptoms are part of the normal healing process, and which ones should be brought to your office’s attention immediately. Putting this information on a written discharge statement gives clients something they can refer to when deciding a course of action for their pets’ health.
Get an Appointment Set Up Before They Leave
Like check-ups, the best time to get a client to schedule a follow-up is when they’re still in the building thinking about their pet. Make sure the client leaves with a reminder card that lists their pet’s next appointment, even if they’re putting it into their calendar. If they lose their organizer or phone, they’ll still have a way to check their schedule and have your contact information on hand.
Book as Soon as Possible
The less time there is between appointments, the less likely the client will forget about it. Try to schedule as close to the care plan as possible, whether the next visit will be in two weeks or 6 months.
Establish Parameters for Scheduling Problems
A lot can happen between now and your client’s next scheduled visit. Discuss what happens if they need to make some changes. What’s the latest they can cancel an appointment? How hard is it to get their pet in if they need medical care before that appointment?
Keep Reminding Them
It often takes multiple reminders to get clients and their pets in for a check-up because transporting a pet is complicated. Sometimes they have to take off work, arrange to have a vehicle their pet is comfortable in, or just take the time to make sure the pet carrier is ready to use.
Always start with a reminder card. This gives the client a physical reminder of the appointment with your contact information, making it easier to remember the appointment and talk to your office if they need to reschedule.
The final step should always be a phone call. This forces an immediate response from the client so you know if they’re coming in or you can clear out your schedule to give more time for your patients.
Outside of these times, try to be flexible, offering your clients their preferred method of contact, whether it’s a phone call, text or email. Electronic messages may be growing in popularity, but in recent studies well over half of clients still prefer a phone call, whether it’s a robocall or there’s a real person on the line.
If the client misses an appointment, send a card to remind them to reschedule. This puts less pressure on them than contacting them directly, making them more likely to set up a new appointment.
Contact Them Even if You Aren’t Going to See Them in the Office
Checking in with clients increases compliance and shows that your clinic is keeping up on their pets help. If you conduct tests, make sure your clients get the results, even if their pet is fine. This gives them something to refer to if they have questions.
Make Sure Everything Goes Smoothly
The easier the visit is, the more likely the client will come in for the follow-up. This includes everything from their pet’s personal preferences to making their visit more comfortable. After all, if pets are miserable, their owners are going to be miserable, too.
We Can Help You Stay in Contact with Your Clients
Positive Impressions LLC has helped hospitals and clinics build relationships with their clients for over 10 years. We have dozens of pre-made reminder card designs that can be printed with your clinic’s information, or we can make cards that use your own images to give them a more personal touch. We also have veterinary bags, business cards, cage labels, memorial products and more, making us your one stop shop for veterinary office products. Stop by our website to see the latest specials and our most popular products.
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