I often ask veterinarians successfully providing telehealth, “What do you know now, that would have done differently in regards to implementing telehealth in your practice?”. The answer is almost always marketing: I would have started marketing earlier, I would have had more of my team marketing in appointments, or I wished I’d known the first six months are all marketing.
You can build your telehealth program, but if your clients don’t know it’s there, how will they use it? Marketing is one of the single most important points of success for any new program. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
1. Use your team to tell a story. Say Mrs. Smith comes in with Fido, who has been vomiting. It’s a minor issue, but he needed to be seen. Have your doctors or nurses ask her while in the exam room: What would she have done if this was after hours, or on a weekend? Have your team explain how the Anipanion can be used in these real-world situations to truly demonstrate the value in the moment. Do this in every appointment- eventually, your clients will be trained and the discussion will be second nature.
2. Use your website! Don’t just put one little button that says “Click here to download our telehealth app”. Ensure that telehealth and the Anipanion app is mentioned, or is an option, for every service so that the full value is demonstrated. Examples: “Spay and neuter, with virtual rechecks”; “After-hours emergency care, provided through our Anipanion app”; “Fully virtual behavior assessments” “Chat with us through our app for questions”
3. Paper– it may seem counterintuitive, but in some situations a piece of paper makes all the difference. Stuff a flier in the dental goodie bag, put a blurb on the bottom of printed estimates, staple a small card with a promo code to their receipt for a discount off their first virtual appointment. We want them to see the mention of your telehealth program and the Anipanion app everywhere within your practice ecosystem.
4. The front desk matters. They see and talk to your clients first and last. When they’re charging out medication refills, have them demonstrate to the client how to do it next time in the app. If someone asks them a health question, make sure they are comfortable referring them to a more medically knowledgeable person on the telehealth team. Every member of your team has to be on board with the solution for it to work properly.
5. Don’t give your clients a choice. Why not just enforce that every surgical recheck requires a virtual recheck, pre-paid with the surgery? When your technician is going over discharge instructions, make discussion of the telehealth program a part of the go-home requirements. Certain appointments, like rechecks, are a great way to get started with telehealth in your practice and get your clients used to the Anipanion platform in a non-urgent, non-emotional situation to set yourself up for success.
It takes approximately 60 days for a new behavior to become a habit. The new behavior of promoting a telehealth service will likely feel clunky and awkward at first, but eventually it will be a part of normal practice- if we keep promoting it. Your clients won’t start using telehealth over night, and your team members won’t feel comfortable providing it until they’ve had some practice. Once we get past that discomfort and newness, we’ll find ourselves in a whole new world of digitally enhanced veterinary practice.