In case you didn’t know, the PDSA’s 2018 PAW report has just been published (you can read it here). The key point that was apparent throughout the document was how poorly informed many of the UK’s pet owners are. This is abundantly clear in the dearth of knowledge about the Animal Welfare Act (25% had apparently never heard of it, and poor knowledge of this legislation strongly correlates with poor provision of preventative healthcare; and only 13% could correctly identify all 5 Welfare Needs). It is also clear that with pet obesity a growing problem (in every sense!) there is a genuine crisis in pet owner education. Increasingly, we’re dealing with an online, highly connected client base, for whom telephoning or visiting their vet is not their preferred method of seeking information.
Into this space have stepped a wide range of online providers. Some are reputable and reliable (like us! Or, to be fair, the Blue Cross, Dogs Trust and International Cat Care); however, many are unreliable or even dangerous, recommending unproven, unsafe or ineffective approaches. However, it’s interesting that pet owners do, by and large, trust vets - 90% of dogs and 81% of cats are registered with a practice, and 96% of animal owners felt that veterinary practices should be actively educating their clients about animal welfare issues.
So, the majority of clients feel there is a need for education, trust their vet, and are used to going online to look for advice and education. This is the perfect opportunity for you as a practice to step up your educational content. Unsurprisingly, 61% of practices feel that their website is the ideal place to do this! That’s where we can step in to help you.
At VetHelpDirect, we’ve developed a number of solutions to help build a better educated, more engaged and more bonded client base. The most important of these are:
The Symptom Checker
This online triage tool is one of our crown jewels. It allows pet owners to enter their pet’s presenting problem, and be led through a series of questions to determine if the problem is Urgent (needing an emergency consultation), High Priority (needs seeing in the next 12 hours), or suitable for Self Care. Whatever the outcome, it will then suggest appropriate advice; however, it is designed to “fail safe” so if in any doubt, the user is directed to their vets for further advice! In use for over 5 years, this is a well validated tool and invaluable to your clients (and potentially to your receptionists!).
Clients often nod and smile in a consult, especially when a new diagnosis is being discussed - but only retain a small percentage of the information. How many of them go home and consult Dr Google, perhaps getting completely the wrong end of the stick? Instead, why not have a series of disease fact sheets on your website, available for your clients to access whenever they need to? The sheets are available in a number of formats for different websites, and can usually be fully customised to your practice’s requirements.
These two services together make up our Education Package; however, they are complemented by two extra services we offer:
Blogging is a really useful way to get information across. Typically, the blogs we write are either a strictly factual discussion of a topical disease, condition or issue; or a client-friendly “case report” leveraging the Salience Bias to encourage emotional engagement from the audience. You choose the topic, and our copywriting team of vets and nurses will write them for you! All blogs are checked by at least 2 veterinary professionals (including at least one MRCVS), as well as our technical and proofing teams before being posted; and you will see copies of everything before it goes live. So if you want us to change something because you use a different protocol - that’s fine, just let us know!
Email Newsletters are an invaluable adjunct to our blogging service. 36% of clients feel that practices should be sending out educational information in regular emails - but this is something that relatively few practices feel is relevant. Meet your clients where they are, by sending your blog (as well as any additional promotions, review requests, or news) directly to them, rather than waiting for them to visit your site.
Education is the key to good animal welfare, better client compliance, and building a bonded client base that will drive your practice forward. Are you doing everything you can?
If you’re interested in any of our packages, contact us for a chat!