Get Pharmacy Buy-in

February 2024 |

Use “need vs. recommend” and other ways to encourage clients to use your pharmacy and get the drugs their pets need.

Client compliance for your practice’s pharmacy business is key to both your financial success and your patients’ health. Veterinary financial consultant Fritz Wood offers these tips to get your clients to take your advice seriously:

Say “need” rather than “recommend.” Always frame your recommendations in terms of what the pet needs. But don’t call it a “recommendation.” According to Wood, a recommendation lacks urgency and conviction. And it tends to come across as an optional suggestion, he says. Instead, tell clients what they “need” or what you would “like” them to do. “Try to strike the word ‘recommend’ from your vocabulary,” says Wood.

Show the outcome of non-compliance. Use photos and videos to show clients how serious the consequences could be for their pets if they don’t follow your guidance. Go to YouTube or Google Images, type in “canine heartworm,” pick a clip with someone taking heartworms out of a pet’s jugular vein, and show the client. Then say: “You know, this is what we’re preventing for $10 a month.”

Present social proof. Follow up the “consequences” demo by assuring clients that they’ll be in good company by following your suggestions. For example, suggests Wood, look at the client and say, “You know what, though? We really don’t have these kinds of problems in our practice, because our clients are really good about giving this every 12 weeks. So we just don’t see much of this here.”

Use loss aversion. People experience the pain of loss much more intensely than the joy of gain, says Wood. Show customers whenever you get a chance that treatment costs more than prevention. Draw up the costs of heartworm treatment (medications, veterinary fees, post-treatment preventive, lab test, X-rays, which might add up to $1,200 to $1,800) and compare that to the cost of heartworm prevention (12 months for $70 to $200). “All the pet insurance companies have great numbers you can use,” says Wood.

Stand behind authority. Cite the official stance of associations and professional organizations. “I love parasitology, because it’s one of the areas where there is no disagreement in the standard of care,” says Wood. “‘Every pet, every month.’ You got an indoor cat in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? Every pet, every month.”

Require fewer purchases. Use longer-duration products that require fewer doses administered, suggests Wood. “In the pharmacy world, an extended-duration product is nirvana, because it drives compliance,” he says. “And the result will be more months of protection.”

Dispense in the exam room. In Wood’s opinion, the reception desk is “absolutely, positively” the worst place to dispense products in a veterinary clinic: “The phone is ringing and it needs to be answered. The receptionist’s goal is to get the clients on their way and out the door as quickly as possible.” Instead, he recommends exam room dispensing. Here, clients’ questions can be properly addressed, and professional recommendations will be given the proper weight. “If it happens in the exam room it’s medicine; if it happens out front it’s not,” he says.

Follow up. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of following up. Schedule that next appointment. Send reminders. Get clients signed up for auto refills. That way, “if you know they’re going to be out of the product in 12 weeks, you just drop their refill in the mail 10 weeks from now,” says Wood.

For more info

Learn more about pharmacy and prescription issues, including more information on managing pet prescription choices, at AMVA.