In a reactive and unpredictable world such as veterinary medicine, a solid game plan is everything.
Strategically positioning and equipping your team, staging your moves, and planning for every contingency can mitigate troublesome challenges and ensure a winning outcome on a daily basis.
But in veterinary practice, your team is guarding a pet—not a football.
Lucretia Greear, DVM, CVA, applies this football-inspired proactive care model to every aspect of her busy small animal practice in suburban Detroit.
Woodhaven Animal Hospital is a unique, forward-thinking practice that runs on cloud-based veterinary software, cutting-edge technology, and a strong, well-supported practice culture. This winning combination ensures the team enjoys increased efficiency while maintaining an exceptionally high standard of care.
Starting positions: Well-defined roles improve workflow and simplify change management
At Woodhaven, change is routine, expected, and welcomed—not something to be feared. Schedule shifts, practice expansion, and workflow changes don’t jostle these all-star team members, because each one understands their role on micro- and macro-levels.
Dr. Greear—a self-described football mom and wife to a “football junkie”—uses the unique but successful strategy of assigning a football position to each team member. This creates clear task boundaries and highlights how each player’s role makes a critical contribution toward the end goal—the end zone in football, and the patient’s discharge or checkout in veterinary practice.
“The quarterback is responsible for the workflow.” Dr. Greear explains, “They're getting the patient in the room, taking a history, and getting the appointment started.” But, the quarterback needs help to get the ball to the end zone. “We also have a running back, a tight end, and a safety,” Dr. Greear elaborates, “whose responsibilities correlate with the appointment and how the patient moves through the hospital.”
The practice’s structured teamwork also simplifies larger changes, such as converting to cloud-based ezyVet software, adding new services (e.g., ozone therapy), or arranging for staff to attend a veterinary conference. Specific team members are assigned to champion these projects and oversee their implementation, which helps the other team members stay focused and organized.
In the huddle: Building patient records as a team maximizes efficiency and accuracy
When Dr. Greear realized that her associates were struggling to keep up with patient records and notation, she turned to ezyVet software. Her team-based structure, plus the software’s enhanced flexibility, reduced the enormous time burden, boosted efficiency, and created a more complete and detailed game plan—the patient chart.
Each team member inputs their information in real-time from any internet-enabled workstation or device. “Everyone participates in building the clinical record, instead of having the responsibility fall solely on the veterinarian,” Dr. Greear says. “At the end of the day, we have our assessment, and we have our plan. And at the end of the day, [the patient’s chart is] finished. We’re finished.”
Playing to their strengths: Acknowledging individual styles allows the entire team to shine
No two players on the football field are exactly the same, but they are more likely to score when they respect each other’s abilities, accommodate their different styles, and play to each other’s strengths. Although their football vernacular provides clarity and direction, the Woodhaven Animal Hospital team enjoys flexibility and individualism in how they approach a problem or task.
Once team members have a solid understanding of their roles and responsibilities, they are empowered to approach many non-critical tasks or functions in the way that makes sense to them. “Some people have a comfort system,” Dr. Greear acknowledges. “[This approach] lets us appeal to different learning types and personalities…instead of saying, ‘This is how you have to do it, and this is the only way. And, if you can’t catch on, then you’re out of luck.’”
Twelfth man: Emphasizing client involvement to improve compliance, empowerment, and satisfaction
Like a professional sports franchise that prioritizes its fan-base, Woodhaven Animal Hospital considers clients active members of their pet’s care team. As part of Woodhaven’s vision for progressive patient care and an exceptional client experience, client service representatives (CSRs) host one-on-one appointments to introduce pet owners to the integrated ezyVet customer portal.
“It’s something we offer to our clients to help them get on board with changes. It’s been really positive,” Dr. Greear says. “Clients love being able to access their pet’s information and send messages to the practice,” she adds.
Evolving the playbook: Equipping team with advanced technology and training
Woodhaven Animal Hospital’s leadership team understands that a well-trained and equipped team is essential for delivering consistent high-end care. So, Dr. Greear and her staff reinvest the practice’s earnings into new technology and services, including cryosurgery, fluorescent light therapy, stem cell therapy, ezyVet cloud-based practice management software, and Michigan’s first hyperbaric oxygen chamber, that make the team’s jobs easier and more rewarding.
Dr. Greear also is committed to staff learning and development, evidenced by the many educational opportunities, such as attending large veterinary conferences and nurturing individual professional interests (e.g., leadership, anesthesia, or surgery), Woodhaven offers the team.
But equipping the team also happens off the “field.” “We want team members to be happy in their work,” Dr. Greear says, so her practice also focuses on staff development that involves communication skills and personalized one-on-one support. “What I hear from our staff is that they really, truly feel like we care about their wellbeing. Anywhere we can accommodate, we will. And, I think that's appreciated.”
Today’s veterinary landscape can feel chaotic and unmanageable, but Woodhaven Animal Hospital’s solid game plan, team-centered approach, and continuous improvement and advancement (i.e., technology, and client service) clearly is a winning strategy in the veterinary field.
For further insights on how workflow, technology, and practice culture can drive practice efficiency and to learn how your team can save up to 15 minutes per clinical visit, download IDEXX’s Finding the Time publication.
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