• Jackie Schletter

Treatment Plan or Estimate?

I stand firmly in the treatment plan camp. Long ago our industry started discussing the benefits of focusing on using verbiage that puts the medical care a pet needs front and center by discussing treatment plans rather than estimates. The client hears about the care, or treatment; then we discuss the dollars it will take to complete the recommended plan the veterinarian has thoughtfully created for a pet.

Hard to get used to the new phrasing? Change your "estimate" in your PMS to read treatment plan - this way to find one or create one you can't use the word estimate. It will print out boldly on the paperwork as you review them with clients as well, pushing the change forward.

Be sure to use the phrase "treatment plan" between team members. This is an excellent way to implement any change you want to impact clients. For instance; I hear teams use the phrase "no problem" with frightening frequency. I coach teams to use other phrases or create conversation rather than use "no problem". Experience has taught me that if the team does not use this phrase with each other, it is unlikely to change. SO - when a teammate has thanked you for something and you're about to say "no problem", say "thank you", "you're welcome", "happy to help", "of course", "sure, anything else I can help with" ... the list is a mile long. This behind the scenes training will spill into your client care with positive results!

For treatment plans, the same concept works. Ask your DVM for a treatment plan and tell your client the doctor will "prepare a treatment plan based on today's examination and lab work". Use the phrase. You might find it even easier if you call the "back" the "treatment area". :-)

Be vigilant as well about the attitude doctors and staff can adopt after experiencing clients turning down or requesting the alteration of a treatment plan. It is an unfortunate and common occurrence to see/hear a technician creating a plan but mumbling "they're not going to do any of this", or "they can't afford this" in regards to the likelihood of a client agreeing to the plan. If the team is focused primarily on the cost of the estimate, the merit of the treatment plan flies out the window.

Consider adding the "why" to the line item on your treatment plan so the medical protocol stays front and center. For instance, x-rays may be in order for a vomiting pet. In the line item, include "assists in ruling out obstruction or foreign body". Staff members will say "I tell the client why the doctor wants to do all of the treatment plan line items" but there is power in the client reading along with you, especially for long or involved plans.

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