A recheck examination is as important, if not more so, as the initial exam. Rechecks ensure pets are receiving high quality veterinary care which should always be our primary goal. Why then is compliance among pet owners and staff alike so challenging to procure?
The reasons are many. Pet owners may view a recheck as difficult or inconvenient. Perhaps they see them as excessive or unnecessary. Staff members may have a natural resistance to scheduling rechecks because they fear it will upset the pet owner. Therefore, the biggest obstacle in scheduling rechecks may simply be educating both clients and staff on reasons why recheck appointments are vital to the health of the pet.
The primary reason for a recheck or follow-up visit is to give the veterinarian the opportunity to assess whether the pet’s condition has improved. For the health of the pet, it is necessary to determine whether progress has been made. The pet owner may be at a disadvantage when it comes to making an assessment regarding whether their pet is improving. It can be quite difficult, and in some instances impossible, for the pet owner to determine if a surgical incision is healing properly, whether parasites are gone, or whether blood levels are improving. The veterinarian and staff are best able to property evaluate whether progress is being made.
A second reason to schedule a recheck exam is to properly evaluate an acute problem, such as vomiting or a skin condition, to assess if the condition is resolved. If the condition has not resolved, it is important for the veterinarian to have the opportunity to develop a plan for long term care. Pet owners can become overwhelmed when they are given too much information in a single visit. Instructing and educating clients on acute problems and long term care takes time. A recheck examination not only gives the veterinarian invaluable information on the state of the pet’s condition, it provides an opportunity to further instruct the pet owner on the proper way to care for their pet going forward.
Rechecks also provide an opportunity to double check a patient’s progress. Double checking to ensure the client fully understood the instructions for administering medication, or to determine whether they are successful in getting their pet to cooperate with the prescribed treatment, helps the veterinarian measure the progress the pet is making. Not understanding directions or instructions are common roadblocks in administering proper care. Having the opportunity to assess whether the client is in compliance with the veterinarian’s instructions can only be achieved through a recheck examination. Making a proper assessment over the phone or through a voice mail message is next to impossible. A follow up examination with the pet owner and patient is the only way to accurately determine whether there is compliance with the prescribed care as well as improvement in the patient’s condition.
Better pet care begins with the relationship among the veterinarian, pet owner, and patient. When a pet owner brings their pet in for a follow up appointment within a short period of time, continuity of care is established. When the same veterinarian sees the pet to reevaluate the pet’s progress, this reinforces the veterinarian-pet owner relationship which ultimately results in better care. Continuity of care not only builds trust, it helps pet owners feel more comfortable knowing their pets are receiving great care. Pet owners are reassured they are doing their part to keep their pet healthy. When a relationship of mutual trust between the veterinarian and pet owner exists, the pet benefits tremendously. A solid relationship between the veterinarian and pet owner makes it possible for the pet owner to better understand their pet’s condition and care plan. The pet owner gains peace of mind through understanding how to care for their pet at home, being instructed on what to watch for, and when they should call their veterinarian for further help or reassurance. When a solid relationship exists between the veterinarian, pet owner, and pet the foundation for better pet care is fully established.
Follow up care also gives the pet owner additional opportunities to ask the veterinarian about other concerns they may have regarding their pet’s health. This not only gives the pet owner peace of mind, it ensures their pet is receiving optimal care. If the pet has an ear problem or a skin condition, the sooner the veterinarian is made aware of the concern the better for the pet. Having the opportunity to assess ongoing issues means potential problems are identified and treatment prescribed in a timely manner which ensures the pet is receiving the best possible care. This should always be our number one priority and rechecks will ensure this goal is attained.
Does your practice management software track recheck appointments and exams?