4 ways to break veterinary clients' Dr. Google habit
The Internet is a staple in most homes these days, and clients have access to medical information—both genuine and quackery. The trouble is that they have no training to discern the good from the bad. Here’s how you can communicate with clients who come in armed with information from Dr. Google:
1. Focus on the positive. If your client is asking you, then all is not lost. Even though it’s frustrating to have to “unexplain” everything they think they have learned online, you’re getting the chance to right the wrongs, and the pet will benefit from it.
2. Don’t roll your eyes. But you can certainly poke fun at Dr. Google. You can jokingly say, “Well, if you see it on the Internet, it must be true,” and most clients that trust you will respond favorably. Deep in their hearts, they know that they need to filter Internet information, and that’s why they asked you. You can laugh together about the wildness of the web and cement your relationship.
3. Point them in a better direction. So much of what’s online is aimless wondering and attention-seeking junk. People instinctively know this, and if you’re calm and assured about the information you counter with, your credibility will shine.
4. Keep it real. Remind them that if the post wasn’t written by a veterinary professional, it might not based on actual science. Point out that when reputable veterinarians share something that they submit their professional credibility to scrutiny. Veterinarians are more likely to make sure that experts agree with what they share and write.
Don’t die on the Dr. Google hill. Yes—it’s not worth losing the client and having the pet go untreated to assert your superiority. Listen to what the client has discovered online and try to find a tiny portion that you can validate so that the pet owner doesn’t feel silly or attacked. For example, if your canine patient has otitis and your clients have treated it with ear mite medication from the farm supply store, you might explain that ear mites are very real and you can see how they might have thought it was worth a try. Explain how glad you are that they’ve pulled you in to start more appropriate management.
As the pet’s advocate, you can make sure that the owner knows that you’ll be a resource anytime they need you. Point out that you know the pet and can make recommendations that are personalized and specific.
The Internet is not going away. We can’t beat ’em, so let’s redirect them so all roads lead to us.