We live in an unprecedented time. Every aspect of American life has been affected, including how you practice veterinary medicine. And evaluating what positive things came out of it will help.
What we have learned from history is that great national challenges breed great change. Consider the factory worker in World War II who invented Duct Tape or early digital photography that was done in the Cold War so an airplane could parachute-drop its findings.
Think about the processes and workarounds veterinarians have done during this crisis for some ideas you can consider for your practice.
Look at What Has Worked
Drop offs for exams are a tried and true option for busy professionals. Many hospitals also began using it with social distancing practices…with the drop-off/pickup in the parking lot.
The benefit is you have an uninterrupted look at the pet you are treating. Your full concentration can be on the pet and any abnormalities you notice. You also have all the tools you need at hand to further investigate potential issues.
Consultations by phone allow you to focus on the pet owner and his/her needs. Some of you have explored using Zoom, FaceTime or other video consult options that let you point out different areas on the pet or x-rays.
Some creative vets have tried using their mobile Instrument tables to hold the laptop while conducting the exam. Installing a shelf on a Chase can provide the same option.
Long after this crisis fades, some of these learnings can be a new way to help pet owners with crowded schedules.
With the advent of parking lot pet collection, there is a new focus on the benefit of using mobile transport to move pets into the veterinary clinic.
Shor-Line has been hearing for years of all the creative ways customers are using products to save the backs of their employees. Here are a few mobile options that work well:
• Mobile Prep Table. It’s great for holding instruments in surgery but can double as a gurney with its heavy-duty wheels.
• Mobile Animal Lift Table (MALT). It’s made for transporting pets from the parking lot to the OR and can be the animal version of a crash cart. It has a lift table to safe your staff’s backs.
• Mobile Transport Cage (standard). This is 36”W Stainless Steel cage with a handle and 5”-diameter caster wheels. Tip: with support, you could transport one pet inside and another on the top, using it as a gurney.
• Mobile Transport Cage (X-Large). This is similar to the standard mobile transport cage but has a Stainless Steel double cage (48”W) and no handle. It comes with a Stainless Steel divider that can make it into two 24”W cages.
It is heartening to hear all of the creative ways veterinarians have kept serving companion animals. From keeping a sick pet in a mobile cage in the lobby while they monitored the phones and door to arranging medicine refills for isolating customers. Versatility got the job done.
The Impending Boarding Boom
Travel is one of the things almost everyone has cut from their list, and they intend to take a vacation when this is all over. So, the economy permitting, expect a boom of reservations.
With that trend is dog bathing. With outdoor exercise one of the few socially acceptable reasons for being outside the home in April, dogs had record amounts of walks. And with spring rain, there was mud and dirt.
Offering bathing packages with nail trims is a perfect post-isolation special. Even double-coated dogs could benefit from this. There is nothing like trying to bathe your best friend in your spa-like bathroom to convince you a bath at the vet or a groomer is a better option!
If you have not already invested in a heat-free dryer, this could be a good add-on. After the initial brush down and bath, the dryer lifts the coat up and allows the loose undercoat to blow out. And there is peace of mind knowing you are avoiding the dangers of a heated dryer.
The increase in boarding could be expected through the end of the year as families often have postponed gatherings and celebrations. The holiday travel periods could be especially busy.
This has been a difficult year. The silver lining is that never has the human-animal bond been on display as strongly. Families are walking their dogs at record rates. Shelters are signing up foster parents at an amazing clip…and those “foster fails” could be your spring boom in new patients with wellness exams.
There are lessons we can learn from this, and it will only improve veterinary medicine.