Using Technicians for Virtual Surgical Check-ins

Traditionally, veterinary practices provide all pre-surgical forms and authorizations at the same time as surgical patient check-in, usually the morning of the procedure. This can be stressful to the pet owner, who is worried about their pet, and now has to sign off on forms and make decisions in a stressful moment at the veterinary practice. How can we improve upon this? By scheduling a live video call or asynchronous chat a day or two before the procedure, we can ensure higher likelihood of compliance for removing food, providing cage rest, and giving medications, as well as answering any questions and getting all forms signed off well before the procedure starts. The pet can be dropped off faster, leaving more time on surgery days- resulting in more patients seen, less stressed team members, and earlier start times. Additionally, the pet owners are better educated and more prepared for the process.

  1. 1-2 Days prior to sedation or surgical procedure
    1. Provide pet parent with checklist (see below)
    2. Provide forms requiring signature or additional info
      1. Surgical release forms
      2. Sedation authorization
      3. Treatment plan/estimate review
      4. Cancellation/no show policy
      5. Contact info 
        1. Specify best form of communication for pet parent day of surgery
      6. Can use docusign or if Anipanion has a way to do this within the app
    3. When to withhold food
    4. Discuss arrival time
    5. Curbside details if applicable
    6. Rough timeline of what will happen day of procedure
        1. Weigh pet
        2. Exam
        3. Labwork
        4. Give meds to calm and sedate
          1. IV catheter placement, ET tube, inhalant general anesthesia
        5. Surgical procedure details if possible
          1. Length of procedure
          2. Anesthesia monitoring 
        6. Recovery process 
          1. What to expect today, overnight, and over next few days-weeks. If possible, send educational documents on the importance of cage rest, physical therapy, bandage maintenance, or other needs. 
        7. Discuss cancelation/no show policy

      If this can be done prior to the day of surgery, it will free up phone lines and waiting room/parking lot bottlenecks the morning of surgery. Pet parents will feel more comfortable and prepared knowing what to expect, making the drop off more efficient and pleasant.

  2. Day of Procedure
    1. Prior to patient drop off
      1. Check to see if pet parent asked any additional questions over night via the app
      2. Check for signed documents prior to patient drop off
    2. After patient drop-off
      1. Send pet parent updates throughout the day
      2. When procedure is starting/ending
      3. How the pet did during procedure
      4. How the pet is doing in post-op recovery
      5. Send pics of pet in post-op recovery (pet parents LOVE this!)
      6. Give pickup time  
      7. Send discharge instructions
      8. Prepare pet parent for use/importance of E-collar/cone
      9. Discuss any pending labwork (ie. histopath, cultures) 
        1. How/when those results will be communicated
      10. Set telemed recheck appointment for next day and again in a week for more serious procedures
  3. Post surgical checkup
    1. Day after
      1. How did the patient do overnight?
      2. Eating/drinking/urinating/defecating?
      3. Initial appearance of incision 
      4. Taking meds well?
      5. Discussion of symptoms to monitor for deeming a recheck needed asap
      6. Schedule in clinic suture removal if applicable or additional telemed rechecks as suited to the patient needs
      7. Discuss continued care if needed (ie. rehab, therapeutic laser, chronic meds, followup surgical procedures)

Pre-Surgical Checklist

Surgical drop offs are usually stressful for pet owners, and one late arrival, pet who has eaten, unsigned form, or confused pet owner will result in stress for your whole team and delays in the surgical schedule. A pre-surgical workflow utilizing telehealth will provide easy, transparent communication, extra education, faster check ins, happier pet parents, and more effective team members.