Wait Training

Television programming can educate and entertain, curbing reception-room

Pets squirm and clients fidget. Stress levels rise even during short delays. Anything longer and time seems to stand still.

Let’s face it, waiting to see the veterinarian doesn’t top anyone’s list of fun things to do.

But with some proactive measures, practitioners can turn anxiety and impatience into knowledge and understanding—even added revenue. One solution is vendor-produced video programming pegged to a practice’s specific strengths.

Several companies offer customized systems that deliver digital broadband, high-definition programming. Content that’s part education, part entertainment plays on flat-screen digital monitors mounted in reception areas, reinforcing a view of the practice as high-tech and cutting-edge.

Perceived waiting time—clients’ No. 1 complaint—is greatly reduced, as are client stress levels, subscribers say.

Some companies offer customized programming specific to the wants and needs of a particular practice. Programming can include the credentials of doctors and staff, special services and products, a virtual tour of the hospital, heartworm and flea awareness, and seasonal promotions such as Dental Health Month. Some systems offer subtitles, allowing the sound to be lowered or muted.

“Our clients really enjoy watching the educational programming in our reception room,” says Daniel Aja, DVM, past president of the American Animal Hospital Assn. Dr. Aja owns and is hospital director of Cherry Bend Animal Hospital in Traverse City, Mich.

“The quality is quite good, and often the information triggers questions about our services.”

Aja’s hospital subscribes to programming produced by PetCare TV of Tampa, Fla. Among other features, the service permits him to customize programming to promote only the products he trusts and stocks.

“It’s all about producing content that meets the changing needs of the pet and the practice,” says Bernie Kouma, vice president of PetCare TV. “Our goal is to entertain as we also help veterinary professionals promote the health and welfare issues most important to them and to their clients.”

In his 30 years of producing educational programming, Kouma has learned the importance of finely tailored content. That’s why his company’s programs are about three minutes long, enough time to impart a message without taxing a distracted client, he says.

Kouma also has learned not to put too fine a point on the specifics of care plans and treatment protocols. Years ago he helped produce programming that explained  how the feline leukemia vaccine was administered. At the time, the vaccine was indicated as a three-shot regimen.

Shortly thereafter, the second-generation vaccine was licensed with a two-dose indication, so the programming had to be pulled and an updated version prepared.

Providing information just before clients enter the exam or consultation room may trigger questions, stimulate conversation and enhance the receptivity to recommended services and products, Kouma adds.

“The win/win result is enhanced health care for pets and an improved bottom line for the practice,” he says.

The medical profession for years has recognized digital health care communication networks. Thousands of health care facilities present programming, much of it sponsored by major pharmaceutical companies, stimulating awareness, services and product sales.

“The veterinary profession is now joining this digital communication revolution,” Kouma says. “In these challenging economic times, the need for improved communication tools is paramount and growing.”


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