As we progress into the future, businesses are evolving to accommodate a new generation. This is happening across the board, but also includes veterinary medicine. We, in the industry, are accustomed to changing along with the times, as new ideas, drugs, and therapies hit the market and advanced diagnostics and techniques emerge. But are we used to adapting to a new business formula? One that includes technology, different communication styles, and an approach to pet ownership that we are not yet trained in?
Improving Veterinarian-Client Communication
Millennials integrate technology into their lives much more than Gen-Xers or Baby Boomers. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers are replied upon for work, play, networking, communication—almost everything except the basics of sleeping, eating, and breathing. Small businesses—which includes most privately owned animal hospitals—need to take this into consideration and use it as a tool. Text messaging and e-mails have replaced phone call confirmations and postcard reminders. Who answers their phone to talk anymore? A quick text from an unknown number seems much more acceptable than a phone call these days.
The digital era's communication methods can be useful, though. At our clinic, we use a portal that not only sends out digital reminders, but also offers clients access to their pet's medical information. The service has access to our database of patients and offers clients access to medical records, blood work results, and the ability to print out this information if needed. Need a vaccine certificate for travel? It's now at a click of a button, rather than a trip to the vet's office to pick it up. A client can use this service to schedule or change appointments, request medications or refills, and even order food without ever speaking to anyone at the clinic. This saves time on both ends and is an efficient way of doing business.
As technological progress is made, everything has the potential to change. It all depends on how you choose to adapt. Social media has taken over promotions, advertising, and networking, and this can be used to a hospital's advantage. Our clinic just formed a social media team (led by a group of millennials, of course) to fully engage and use these tools. Clients love getting Snapchats of their pets while they are boarding. We hold Instagram contests and post instructional videos on Facebook. These platforms are a great way to reach clients and a fun way to spread the work of your clinic. Many of our clients even post and share pictures of their pets to our pages, and love to obtain followers for their own pets' personal pages. And we can help them with that.
This bring me to how this generation is altering pet ownership, all together. Pets have come a long way in the past couple of decades, going from being outside dogs to sleeping in our beds and having their own Instagram accounts. (One of our patients has over 17,000 followers!) The digital access to medical records, photos, videos, and educational media has allowed us, as veterinary professionals, to offer better medical care options. There are online apps that give us 24-hour access to veterinarians or technicians and help clients take the best care of their pets.
Times change so fast, it can be hard to keep up. Staying on top of the trends is not only necessary, but also will keep our clients and patients as happy and healthy as possible.
Natasha Feduik is a licensed veterinary technician with Garden City Park Animal Hospital in New York, where she has been practicing for 10 years. Natasha received her degree in veterinary technology from Purdue University. Natasha has two dogs, a cat, and three birds at home and is passionate about helping people take the best possible care of their animal companions.