Repeat bookings and follow-up appointments

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Repeat bookings and follow-up appointments - Vetster

Many aspects of clinical practice are also applicable in the virtual space, and the importance of repeat bookings and follow-ups for building relationships is a key example.  Just like a dentist appointment:  booking the next appointment should be the final step of almost every visit.  This rule also applies to virtual care.

The benefits of repeat bookings and follow-ups

When you make booking the next visit a priority in your workflow, it’s not only good business - it’s also better medicine. These ongoing interactions strengthen the bond between veterinarians and pet owners as well as ensure comprehensive and continuous healthcare for pets.  When you encourage repeat bookings, you establish a consistent line of communication which allows owners to report on their pet’s progress and address any changes or concerns. Follow-ups provide an opportunity to reinforce your initial treatment recommendations, evaluate the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment, make adjustments to the plan, and provide additional guidance and support to owners. Furthermore, regular check-ins help build trust and loyalty, as pet owners feel valued and reassured by the veterinarians’ commitment to their pet’s well-being. Ultimately, repeat bookings and follow-ups foster a collaborative relationship, which in turn results in improved outcomes, increased client satisfaction, and the overall promotion of virtual care as a convenient and effective veterinary service.

Following up

Vetster’s integrated “Request follow-up” feature makes it easy to let clients know you’re thinking about them.  This feature is available both during and after visits from your desktop (not yet available in mobile app).  Once you click the tab, an email is automatically generated and sent to the client, requesting they book an appointment. You’ll be notified of any new bookings via email or text, depending on your platform settings.

follow up appointment section on desktop

Vetster also has a direct messaging (DM) feature to help you keep the lines of communication open with your clients.  DMs are great for a next day check-in to let clients know you’re thinking about them. Include self-promotion tools like your unique booking link and consider adding a promo code. You can find the DM feature on the appointment page by clicking the “Message client” tab. You can send a DM to a client anytime; the feature does not expire as the appointment ages. On the client-facing side, the client has a 48-hour window where the DM feature is operational following the appointment and any time you send them a new message. Depending on the settings you’ve selected for the platform, you’ll receive text or email notifications of a new client message.

Clients love receiving a DM, and it sends a message that you care about them and their pet.  This can be problematic, however, when clients wish to carry on and on via the DM tool.  You are encouraged to politely keep professional boundaries in regards to use of the DM feature. If the case is complicated or the client is trying to work-in new problems or other pets, don’t hesitate to let them know the best plan is to book a new visit.  That way you’ll be able to dedicate the necessary time and attention to their concerns.  Help the client understand that a new video chat is the best way for you to accurately assess the pet and its progress.

Follow-up workflow

  1. Make a point of planning a recheck as you wrap up your video appointments. Let the client know when you’d like to see them again, and why. Encourage them to book another appointment with you as you draw the call to a close.
  2. Record your recheck recommendations in the “Plan” section of your medical record.
  3. DM the client one or two days later to ask how the pet is doing. Let them know you’re thinking about them and reassure them that you’re only a couple of clicks away if they have any new questions or concerns. Remind them when you’d like them to check back in and include your unique booking link and consider attaching a discount code.
  4. Keep track of your recent appointments and watch for repeat bookings.
  5. 1-3 days prior to your desired recheck, use the “Request follow-up” feature for any cases that haven’t already booked.

Always use the in-app tools to follow up with clients.  Don’t share your personal contact information. Using the in-app tools also improves record-keeping and continuity of care by keeping communication within the app.

The “Request Follow-up” functionality is limited to use on your desktop; this functionality is not available on the mobile Vetster app. You may find it helpful to let clients know their interface affects how the request for a follow up is received. If the client is also on their desktop/web/mobile web device, the request goes through seamlessly. If the client has an unsupported version of the iOS or Android app, your “Request Follow-up” tab will be grayed out and nothing will happen when you click on it.

Use cases

There are many ways to leverage followup and repeat bookings. Here are a few examples to improve your workflows and find the applications right for you and your clients.

1) The Multi-Issue List

Repeat bookings are ideal for situations where a client has multiple issues requiring more than a single 30-minute appointment. When you break virtual care appointments down into digestible chunks, you help clients prioritize their most urgent concerns.  Each Vetster booking is for only one pet, so don’t hesitate to politely let clients know this if they try to work around that requirement.

2) Ongoing Treatment Plans

Clients are more likely to comply with your recommendations for ongoing treatment when you support them by frequently touching base. Here are some examples of appointment types that are particularly well suited for repeat virtual care bookings:

  • Weight loss
  • Behavior consultations
  • New pet - puppy and kitten questions
  • Post-op follow up

3) Refill Compliance

When you’ve prescribed something for a client and don’t need to see them in person to authorize a refill, a virtual check-in is a great way to keep up with pet owners on how their pet is progressing and if they’re having any trouble administering the medication.  The additional touchpoint also emphasizes the importance of continuing to give the medication as directed.

4) Home Fecal Diagnostics

When clients order a home fecal diagnostic test kit through VesterRx, their cost includes a follow-up appointment so you can review the results with them. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure they understand what their next steps should be. If indicated, it also gives you a chance to recommend a repeat fecal to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment plan.  Read more about home fecal diagnostic test kits on our blog.

5) Reviewing results…

If you’ve recommended in-person care for diagnostics, let your clients know you’re available to discuss the results of those tests. Clients often have follow-up questions after seeing their in-person vet, and the convenience of a virtual care visit along with your familiarity with their pet make a recheck with you a great way for them to get answers.

Using phrases like these as you draw your virtual care appointments to a close can help boost client compliance with repeat bookings and follow-up requests:

  • “I’d like to know how Fluffy is doing before the weekend. I’ll send you a request to book a follow-up now so you can schedule it at your convenience.”
  • “Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any new questions, if something unexpected happens, or just if you’re worried. Here’s the link that will take you directly to my booking page.”
  • “Let's decide when it would be best for us to reconnect on this …. “
  • “Is there anything else that I can help support you with regarding your pet’s care?”

Repeat bookings and follow-ups improve the level of care for everyone: veterinarians, clients, and their pets, whether you’re practicing in the real world or the virtual space. Fewer patients lost to follow-up leads to better outcomes, regardless of if that’s due to earlier detection of problems or making timely adjustments to the treatment plan. The virtual care provider’s most valuable asset is communication, and repeat bookings provide an excellent opportunity to improve client communication. When you encourage clients to check back in with you, this builds trust and relationships, increases opportunities for revenue, helps you stand out as a provider of superior care, and shows the client you care. This ultimately leads to growing your virtual practice.