Technology has changed how we practice veterinary medicine. Gone are the days of the paternalistic relationship between vet and client where the client will simply go along with whatever the vet deems is necessary for the pet. Clients are becoming more knowledgeable and as vets, we are often faced with a situation where a client comes in armed with a ‘Dr Google’ diagnosis.
As practitioners this can be challenging and confronting, maybe because our egos tell us that this is an insult to our hard earned years of training and experience. I think the perspective needs to change regarding this and we need check our egos. As an emergency clinic, we talk to clients all the time that have questions regarding something that they have read on the internet. I confess that I used to feel threatened by this. I was not comfortable feeling this way so I decided to change my perspective on the matter. Here are some ways to turn the old nemesis, Dr Google, into a friend, or, at the very least, call a truce with him:
• Make it a point to acknowledge your client for their initiative and interest in their pet’s health. You are not simply paying lip service here, the reason why these clients have googled about their pet’s health is because they care!
• These clients are generally dedicated to their pets health and welfare – they are the ones who are often committed to doing what needs to be done as long as they understand why and how. And that’s where you come in- client education is a big part of our jobs!
• They are pre-armed with knowledge therefore saving time in the consult room, so you can spend less time describing what the adrenal glands do, for example, and more about why and how they can malfunction.
• If what they have read is not accurate, then take this is an opportunity to gain rapport by giving them the correct information or directing them to reputable sites like veterinarypartner.com. This demonstrates to the client that you are still the most reliable source for information about their pet’s health.
Due to the ubiquity of information (and misinformation!) about veterinary medicine available on the Internet, there is an even stronger reason for us as veterinarians to keep up with the latest advancements in veterinary medicine. Always try to remember that ultimately, the reason why your client has come in to see you having already done some research on the internet, is because they are genuinely concerned about their pet – so try to see this as something that is positive rather than negative. By changing your perspective, you will soon find that you no longer dread a consult with a client who has brought Dr.Google along!