The Importance of Veterinary-Client Education

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  • 0:01 Client Education & Compliance
  • 1:23 Client Education
  • 4:10 Client Compliance
  • 5:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will take a look at the importance and definition of client education and client compliance as well as what steps you can take to improve both of them.

Client Education & Compliance

If I were to try to sell you a box without telling you why you need it, would you buy it? Maybe, but most likely you wouldn't. If I were to give you a seed and tell you to plant it without any further instruction, how likely are you going to be to bother planting the seed to see it grow into a full tree? Not likely.

Animal owners are not going to want to pay for a test or medication if they don't understand what it's for, and they are unlikely to comply with your instructions on how to take care of an animal once they are discharged from the hospital unless they're educated as to what they need to do and why they need to do it. Thus, client education is one of the most important parts of veterinary medicine. The term client education refers to the education of a client (the animal owner) in order to improve their understanding of the care surrounding their animal, as well as overall client compliance.

Client compliance refers to the percentage of clients or number of times a specific client accepts a medical recommendation and acts upon advice and instructions given to them in order to improve their animal's well-being. Poor education means poor compliance, which means poor patient outcomes. Since patient care is the number one priority in veterinary medicine, client education is very important!

Client Education

In order to educate so we can improve compliance and, thus, patient care, we must strive to improve the client's understanding. How do we do this? We can do this in one of many ways. We can give them educational information about their pet's health and needs by speaking with them, writing things down, or printing them out.

Using both verbal and written word is better than either alone. Speaking with the client in the office is important so that they can get the information introduced to them and have a chance to ask any questions they have right there and then. But written material is just as important. People readily forget a lot of the things they are told throughout the day. This is even truer with medicine, where a lot of difficult and sometimes confusing medical information is dispensed for the layperson.

By giving clearly written and easily understood material to take home, clients can sit down and digest the information, and they can always call and ask further questions at a later time. One key thing that helps to improve client understanding of their pet's situation as well as what they should be doing at home to improve the outcome of their animal's condition is repetition. Repeating a key message several times, by spoken or written word, helps to increase the retention of information. Examples of written material clients may be able to access in the clinic or take home with them include:

  • Brochures with information about properly taking care of a new puppy
  • Posters in the clinic, such as those that show the different internal parasites a dog can get
  • General educational handouts about topics like fleas
  • Information located on a clinic's website
  • Personalized instructions printed out when a client is about to leave. Such instructions may include the medication being given to their dog, how long it must be given, and what side effects to look out for.

In some cases, we need to go beyond the visual and written word to educate a client. Sometimes, hands-on client education must take place. For instance, when we teach clients how to give fluids under the skin at home to a cat. All of this education should take place in a quiet and safe area so clients can pay full attention to what you're saying.

Remember, the reason we must educate clients is many-fold. Clients will not ask for services they have no idea exist. Furthermore, clients won't ask for or will not pay for services if they don't understand their use or value. A veterinarian may say that the dog needs an X-ray, but if a client has no idea what an X-ray is or why a veterinarian needs to take one, they are far less likely to pay for one.

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