Core elements of comprehensive pet healthcare

By MWI Animal Health |

How to make pet health even more thorough through treatments and value-added care
Veterinary surgery

How can companion veterinary practices help pets recover sooner from sickness or injury? By providing comprehensive care.

The growing list of animal health services that can enhance your top-notch veterinary practice includes technology that allows for faster communication and continuity of care as well as access to specialists and post-op/post-incident solutions.

Digital imaging and digital medical records

Sharing digital diagnostics and medical records with clients and other providers speeds up and improves communication. In some cases, it also facilitates submitting pet health insurance claims.

When feasible, before-and-after imaging provides powerful documentation of your efforts — such as those commonly done for orthopedic repairs or dental interventions.

Services of specialists

No companion veterinary practice can be all things to all pets in all situations. Offering the service of specialists can provide deeper comprehensive care and help build your clients' confidence in your medical care.

Whether you bring specialists onsite or refer patients out, give clients access to board-certified specialists in a variety of disciplines:

  • Behavior
  • Cardiology
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency / critical care
  • Internal medicine
  • Neurology
  • Nutrition
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Radiology
  • Surgery

Some clients also want access to complementary services. If your practitioners don't offer treatments such as acupuncture in-house, consider developing relationships with trustworthy providers in your community.

Post-op/post-recovery supportive care

Recovery support extends beyond pharmaceuticals for pain and inflammation. Pet rehabilitation services — often done by veterinarians with additional rehab training or physical therapists with additional animal health training — now feature exercises or services for:

  • Range of motion
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Kinesiology
  •  Water therapy (swimming or underwater treadmills)
  • Treatments involving magnets, ultrasound, or lasers

Some post-op/post-incident care must be done onsite at a rehabilitation facility, at least initially or with additional visits throughout recovery. However, much of it should happen daily at home, so client compliance and training can remain a challenge. These at-home exercises often require families to purchase or borrow equipment such as wobble boards, bosu and cavaletti poles. Consider loaning or even renting rehab supplies to clients as needed and designating a technician as your go-to rehab contact for families.

If you also use laser equipment onsite, consider packaging a few sessions with the surgery itself to speed incision healing and support full recovery. This establishes continuous care for pets and provides more opportunities to monitor and support compliance at home.

End-of-life and post-life care

Palliative and hospice care for terminally ill pets helps clients and patients in the final months, weeks, and days. They can relieve animal health teams of some burdens, preventing panicked calls from clients. Veterinary hospice care providers prepare families for contingencies and even supply medications to use in sometimes scary or urgent situations.

Consider building relationships and adding referrals to such practitioners if you don't already do so. In many cases, they can prevent people from making an unexpected, stressful, and rushed trip to your practice or to the ER for euthanasia.

In addition, cremation and other post-life care referrals and services help clients with what comes next — especially if the pet dies at home.

Providing and communicating value

Clients need help understanding how preventive care, sick-pet care, value-added services, and technology combine to create true comprehensive care that improve their pets' lives. That's where detailed estimates on the elements and costs of the treatment plan and confident recommendations and explanations come into play. Accessible and effective communications improve client service and help build stronger partnerships.

Next time you think about a complicated case, take time to document how the core elements of comprehensive care worked together and resulted in the best possible outcome. Tell those stories. Trust your strengths. Keep doing great work.

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