The underutilization of Veterinary Technicians has been identified by the veterinary industry as causing issues with job satisfaction, burnout and financial struggles. An October 2018 JAVMA article described veterinary technicians as “glorified pet holders”. Is this true of your practice?
Technicians are Full of Untapped Potential
Your veterinary technicians are one of the largest sources of untapped potential in your hospital and in the entire veterinary industry. Day after day, they watch as you take a history, perform an exam, recommend diagnostics and treatments and witness the outcome during follow-up appointments. Technicians who have worked with you for years know how you practice. They know what you are going to ask them to do before you ask. An experienced technician can identify emergency conditions and help veterinarians organize themselves so that patients get what they need. Why are we not giving technicians more responsibility? If the answer to that question is that you don’t know how, then let me open a door for you.
Experienced Veterinary Technicians are Thorough, Accurate and Overall excellent Telehealth Providers
Veterinary Technicians are incredibly bright, talented individuals who are perfect conductors of telehealth. How do I know? Because I oversaw several veterinary technicians in a veterinary telehealth setting for a year and a half.
Of course they cannot and should not diagnose, treat or prescribe – they aren’t veterinarians, but more often than not, they can identify common illnesses, they know what you would recommend for diagnostics, treatments or next steps, and they know when a pet truly needs to be seen or when some at-home TLC is best.
How To Start Technicians on the Road to Telehealth
Find Your Champion: Are there any technicians in your hospital who are all-in on telehealth? If so, then that person should be your point-person and help you develop your hospital’s telehealth protocols. Their enthusiasm will be needed when implementation becomes difficult or an inclination to fall back on old ways prevails.
Find A Telehealth Platform: Next, ask your Telehealth champion to investigate which telehealth platform is right for your hospital. Although several platforms are available, take a good look at what each platform offers. You want to make sure your telehealth platform has the ability to charge clients, produce and save telehealth medical records, follow up with clients automatically, and integrate with your current veterinary software.
Make sure your Technicians Understand VCPR laws: VCPR laws are important to provide your clients with helpful pet health information legally. If a VCPR relationship does not exist, make sure your team does not diagnose, recommend or prescribe anything. Instead, your team can give a differential diagnosis, tell people how you may have treated a similar condition in the past, or tell the client an in-person veterinary visit is needed.
Buckle Up and Give It a Go:
Send an email out to your clientele letting them know about your new offering.
Set your clients expectations about when they can get ahold of your team through telehealth, what services you can (and cannot) provide through telehealth, if a client should expect an immediate response, highlight who your clients will be speaking to (your RVTs!!!) and why you are adding this service to your practice.
Adding Telehealth to your practice is a huge step forward for your veterinary hospital. It will help you build trust and rapport with your clients, help you keep track of pets that have barriers to care and will give your technicians a greater sense of purpose. Ask your technicians about their interest in telehealth and explore their untapped potential.