We are all aware of the importance of effective communication. In this period of recession when aspects of animal health and welfare may potentially be at risk, it is perhaps more important than ever to look at ways in which we can best communicate, in order to provide the best possible care for our equine patients.
Recently the importance of the vet–client–patient (VCP) or vet–patient–client (VPC) relationship has been highlighted as a core element that enables a successful outcome for patients. The breakdown of this relationship at any point leads to a suboptimal result.
Equine ambulatory practice has a structure that allows an incredibly strong VCP relationship. Many clients have a regular vet (most often backed up by other equally capable team members) who has numerous interactions at various levels, from emergency to routine work. Our industry is fortunately structured in a way that results in equine vets having a relatively low number of clients that are visited repeatedly, thus strengthening the VCP relationship.
The best outcome for the patient will be most likely when the practice has the benefit of bespoke ‘reference ranges’ for each patient achieved during routine screening
Providing holistic veterinary care requires that these client interactions encompass times of urgent need and routine care. The best outcome for the patient will be most likely when the practice has the benefit of bespoke “reference ranges” for each patient achieved during routine screening.
At my practice, we offer our clients annual health checks (AHC) for their horses. These are provided during the quieter times of the year and encompass a clinical examination, dental check and work, vaccination, worming advice and blood work. Each element is discounted, and the package is offered with advance notice only.
The benefits to the VPC relationship are obvious. Each check starts with a general discussion about the patient and focuses on any concerns. A condition score is then allocated, which provides an ideal opportunity to raise any concerns, such as obesity. The cardiovascular and respiratory systems are then assessed, followed by the eyes. Bloods are then acquired, prior to sedation of the patient, allowing a dental examination and routine/remedial dentistry. While the dental requirements are expected, an unexpected blood result is a regular finding, allowing early diagnosis and treatment if required: again, improving patient outcome.
Most clients ensure the timing of the AHC is in line with their vaccination and dental checks, thus avoiding unnecessary duplication. The holistic nature of the AHC allows a broader discussion of the vaccines on offer and the best product for the patient, especially in times of reduced vaccine supply.
Most clients ensure the timing of the AHC is in line with their vaccination and dental checks, thus avoiding unnecessary duplication
A faecal sample is then obtained and submitted for faecal worm egg counts, initiating a discussion on parasite management and prevention. Again, this is an ideal time for a non-confrontational discussion about the best practice for worm management.
None of the above is new, and most practices are fully engaged in their own bespoke client provisions providing similar opportunities and benefits. However, in times of financial restriction, there is more pressure than ever on the routine work. We are all having to justify the benefits in order to retain the work and maximise the VPC relationship.