How Veterinary Practices Can Adapt to the New Normal of Post Lockdown Pets
It is a well-established truth that people in the United Kingdom are extremely affectionate for their pets. While this is not a new understanding of the relationship between the UK and their pet companions, this trait could not be truer today.
Recent stay-at-home orders have contributed to a surge in pet adoptions as lonely people looking for company on the days when going out with friends is out of the question and working from home is the norm. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, at the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 3.2 million families in the United Kingdom had acquired a pet.
Of course, finding more pets loving homes is great, but with higher demand comes more strain on veterinary practices.
While the veterinary field has always been a busy industry, the surge in pet ownership during the pandemic has made it more dynamic. Thus, veterinary practices have to adapt fast to maintain a high level of customer service moving forward.
This article will explore how veterinarians, and the entire veterinary practice, can cope with the new normal.
Coping with Technology: Accelerating the Adoption of New Digital Platforms
As a result of the COVID-19 situation, the veterinary field has taken advantage of the potential to make life better for pets, their owners, and their veterinarians.
After all, most veterinarians got into this field because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of animals. Because of this possibility, veterinary clinics have been obliged to adopt digital transformation far more quickly than most anticipated.
Many veterinary practices are turning to cutting-edge technologies to strengthen client interactions in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. This technological advancement was apparent before the COVID-19 pandemic, although it is even more prevalent now than it was before.
Even though keeping up with the rapid speed of change might be difficult for both clients and veterinary teams, it is essential for the long-term success of the veterinary practice.
Coping with Pet Care: Shifting and Increasing the Focus on Preventative Medicine
One trend in the veterinary field that has been noticeable since the pandemic began is the increase in the number of people who have pets, both among people who had never owned pets before and people who had stopped owning pets in the past. Working from home, feeling less isolated, and having more discretionary cash have contributed to the highest number of people owning pets in recent history, if not ever.
At the forefront of today’s veterinary clinic’s priorities is preventative care, which can take anything from participation in an all-encompassing Wellness Plan to maintaining a current vaccination schedule to simple annual check-ups.
The capacity to detect and treat possible issues before they arise coincides with the veterinary practices’ mission to deliver the highest-quality veterinary care for their clientele, not to mention the potential cost savings that this capability can give.
Coping with Client Stress and Anxiety Levels: Establishing Guidelines to Protect Veterinarians from Hostile Clients
It is the primary focus of any reputable veterinary practice to maintain open lines of contact with the owners of the animals under their care to provide the necessary medical attention to the patients.
Veterinary offices expect to be able to accommodate a large diversity of client behaviours and requests to provide exceptional and consistent client service. Occasionally, these expectations go beyond merely being challenging and instead jump into the realm of being openly aggressive or abusive.
Therefore, when a client displays consistently objectionable and offensive behaviour that negatively impacts the well-being of the members of the veterinary team or other clients, the veterinary practice leaders must take the rare step of terminating the relationship and encourage the client to find another veterinarian.
The veterinary business is, unfortunately, seeing an increase in the frequency of occurrence of this problem. Establishing laws and regulations to safeguard the already overburdened personnel is one strategy for addressing this issue. You can also provide staff resources to help alleviate stress.
Coping with Staff Shortages and Fears: Implementing Helpful and Relevant Programs
Another element contributing to a veterinary practice’s inability to treat patients immediately is a lack of available staff members. These shortages are getting caused by several issues, the most pressing include:
- Illness: Those veterinarians who contract COVID-19, show symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, or get exposed to someone who has COVID-19 are required to remain at home in quarantine, which contributes to a lack of staff.
- Burnout: Working in the field of veterinary medicine is not easy. There is a lot of stress involved in the work, from the long hours to the results that are not always satisfying. The stress caused by these factors makes it difficult for veterinarians to keep their mental health in check. Veterinary professionals suffered from burnout before the onslaught of COVID-19, which caused many to cut back on the number of hours they worked or switch careers. The additional labour that COVID-19 brought on did not aid the already overworked veterinary practitioners.
Practitioners faced challenges such as burnout, compassion fatigue, and even suicide ideation during the pandemic. To combat such instances, reconnecting with the team on a social and personal level through activities such as off-site staff events and team building as constraints gradually get lifted is recommended.
Moreover, veterinary clinics may provide services to help their employees deal with personal challenges at home and in the office, such as counselling for stress, legal advice, financial planning, and health promotion. In addition, they may provide veterinary professionals and their families with private mentoring, coaching, and counselling services.
Such programs ensure the health and well-being of veterinarians to continue delivering exceptional customer services.
If the number of veterinarians does not increase at the same rate as the number of pets, the demand for each vet and their support personnel will increase dramatically. As a result, the vet’s relationships with customers and mental health may suffer.
Therefore, veterinary practices must ensure the well-being of their staff, particularly the veterinarians moving forward. If they want to continue giving the best care to their clientele and the entirety of their stakeholders, such changes need to get implemented.