Veterinarians are thought of primarily by their clients for instances of injury and illness. Though veterinary opinions have some impact regarding other issues such as nutrition and behavior, our industry has focused primarily on motivating clients to bring their animals to the clinic or in getting a veterinarian to see the patient at their location in the instance of horses and other large animals. The fact that we call them patients communicates an expectation that they must be sick or injured before we have relevance to them.
According to research performed and reported by Banfield in the 2015 Banfield State of Pet Health, pet owners view preventive care differently from how veterinarians view it. Veterinarians view preventive care as vaccines, spay/neuter, and parasite control, while pet owners think of diet, exercise, care, play, and emotional well-being. These are vastly different perceptions of preventive care, and probably contribute to some clients’ unwillingness to utilize veterinary services regularly.
The opportunity for veterinarians is to make themselves relevant and important to clients and their animals in more everyday issues of health, rather than only when they get injured or are ill. We must communicate, listen, and learn to deliver value in our customer care, in addition to providing exemplary veterinary care, which we largely view as medicine. Remember, exemplary care is more than medicine.