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That access as well as convenience matters to patients.
On the flipside, clinics with three- to five-week wait
times oftentimes lose even the most loyal clients, who
can't get in for emergent situations.
That's what happened to Drew DiGiovanni, a human
healthcare practice management consultant, who
couldn't get an appointment with a long-time veterinarian for his dog-who couldn't walk-for three weeks.
" I'm not going back to that practice and I've got three
pets. I'm sorry, that's a financial loss to them. Access and
customer retention is huge, and that-more than efficiency-will probably get peoples' attention when it
comes to optimizing staff.
For Dr. Lewis it was a two-for-one deal: Not only is
she able to get patients in for same-day treatment with
ER visits, she uses the two-hour administrative buffer in
her schedule to accommodate emergent situations with
patients whose issues demand her skills.
An Age-Old Story That's Been Ignored
Veterinary clinic owners know they need to assess staff
skills and realign duties to ensure practice efficiency. It's
a common recommendation from practice management
gurus in human and veterinary medicine circles because
it improves the bottom line, patient experience and satisfaction rates, and team morale, which influences turnover and tenure. " All three are bottom-line oriented, "
DiGiovanni said. " In addition, you provide a better quality of life for your doctors. "
That was certainly the case for Dr. Lewis. " People
are amazed that I have two hours each day set aside for
administration, " she said.
For perspective, the concept of optimizing team members was cited in The Current and Future Market for Veterinarians and Veterinary Medical Services in the United States, a
" Mega Study " industry report from 1999 and has been
discussed among practice management experts for ages.
It's an issue that keeps savvy veterinary practice owners up at night yet optimizing team members has not
become a common part of everyday practice. Why?
" Fear prevents providers from testing new approaches, "
said Dr. Lewis, who shares her approach with MAs during medical conferences across the country. The one
question she's asked: " Is that legal? "
And not all doctors-in veterinary and human medicine-have been trained to work closely with technicians and nurses and help them optimize their roles.While
younger veterinarians likely learned about team-based
care in veterinary medical school, which makes it easier
for them to initiate or acclimate to this type of team-based
care, it might not be as intuitive for older veterinarians.
Yet at a time when doctors are in increasingly short
supply-a recent Veterinary Practice News story notes that
75 million pets could lose access to care by 2030-isn't
now the time to test those waters?
Corporate-owned clinics like Banfield, which started
scheduling veterinary technician visits in 2019 to alleviate backlog and to give the doctors a reprieve, could create a new gold standard for care as clients become more
comfortable with technicians delivering care that falls
within the practice act.
Veterinary Practice News outlines why veterinarians
should consider using technicians in ways their human
medicine counterparts use MAs, physician assistants,
and nurse practitioners, and as national associations
continue to develop specialty designations for technicians-from diagnostic imaging to dentistry and
beyond-practice owners have more opportunities to
enhance their teams.
To get started, DiGiovanni advises practice owners
and managers to develop processes for team members to
expand their purview-within the confines of the practice act-and optimize their roles to improve efficiency
and expand access to care. He shared these steps to start
" Fear prevents providers from
testing new approaches. "
Lisa Lewis, DO
How and When to Delegate
While legal qualms can be quelled by checking with the
California Veterinary Medical Board (www.vmb.ca.gov) to
ensure that team members are handling appropriate tasks,
there might be larger issues preventing a shift to team-based
care that optimizes each staff member's skills: It's hard to delegate tasks that historically rested squarely in a doctor's realm.
It's a question of leadership. " Doctors have to lead
the way for this to be successful, " said DiGiovanni. That
leadership-whether it comes from a one-doc practice
owner like Dr. Lewis or a larger organization like Banfield-requires trust and confidence in delegating tasks
and developing team members.
Dr. Lisa Lewis flanked by her two MAs, whose work enable her to expand
access to patient care.
Pulse - April 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pulse - April 2021
Pulse - April 2021
Chapter Meetings & Calendar
Optimizing Veterinary Practice Staff Increases Efficiency and Retains Clients
UC Davis Update
Tools for Success
Digital Photography for Veterinarians
From the SCVMA Office
Pulse - April 2021 - Pulse - April 2021
Pulse - April 2021 - Cover2
Pulse - April 2021 - 1
Pulse - April 2021 - 2
Pulse - April 2021 - Chapter Meetings & Calendar
Pulse - April 2021 - President’s Perspective
Pulse - April 2021 - SCVMA Profile
Pulse - April 2021 - 6
Pulse - April 2021 - Pulsepoints
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Pulse - April 2021 - 9
Pulse - April 2021 - 10
Pulse - April 2021 - Practical Pathology
Pulse - April 2021 - Optimizing Veterinary Practice Staff Increases Efficiency and Retains Clients
Pulse - April 2021 - 13
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Pulse - April 2021 - 15
Pulse - April 2021 - Medical Leeway
Pulse - April 2021 - 17
Pulse - April 2021 - UC Davis Update
Pulse - April 2021 - Tools for Success
Pulse - April 2021 - Angel Fund
Pulse - April 2021 - Dear Tabby
Pulse - April 2021 - The RVT
Pulse - April 2021 - Industry Insights
Pulse - April 2021 - Quick Reference
Pulse - April 2021 - Digital Photography for Veterinarians
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Pulse - April 2021 - AVMA Diplomates
Pulse - April 2021 - Resources
Pulse - April 2021 - Disease Table
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Pulse - April 2021 - From the SCVMA Office
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