Using Technicians for Virtual Surgical Check-ins

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Traditionally, veterinary practices provide all pre-surgical forms and authorizations at the same time as surgical patient check-in, usually on the morning of the procedure. This can be stressful to the pet owner, who is worried about their pet, and now has to sign off on forms and make decisions in a stressful moment at the veterinary practice. How can we improve upon this? By scheduling a live video call or asynchronous chat a day or two before the procedure, we can ensure a higher likelihood of compliance for removing food, providing cage rest, and giving medications, as well as answering any questions and getting all forms signed off well before the procedure starts. The pet can be dropped off faster, leaving more time on surgery days- resulting in more patients seen, less stressed team members, and earlier start times. Additionally, the pet owners are better educated and more prepared for the process.


1-2 Days prior to sedation or surgical procedure

Provide pet parent with a checklist (see below)


Provide forms requiring a signature or additional info

  • Surgical release forms
  • Sedation authorization
  • Treatment plan/estimate review
  • Cancellation/no-show policy
  • Contact info 


Specify the best form of communication for the pet parent day of surgery

  • Can use DocuSign or if Anipanion has a way to do this within the app
  • When to withhold food
  • Discuss arrival time
  • Curbside details if applicable
  • A rough timeline of what will happen day of the procedure
    • Weigh pet
    • Exam
    • Lab work
    • Give meds to calm and sedate
      1. IV catheter placement, ET tube, inhalant general anesthesia
    • Surgical procedure details if possible
      1. Length of procedure
      2. Anesthesia monitoring 


Recovery process 

  • Give them an idea of what to expect today, overnight, and over the next few days or weeks. If possible, send educational documents on the importance of cage rest, physical therapy, bandage maintenance, or other needs. 
  • Discuss cancelation/no-show policy



If this can be done prior to the day of surgery, it will free up phone lines and waiting room/parking lot bottlenecks the morning of surgery. Pet parents will feel more comfortable and prepared because they know what to expect, making the drop-off more efficient and pleasant.


Day of Procedure

Prior to patient drop-off

  • Check to see if the pet parent asked any additional questions overnight via the app
  • Check for signed documents prior to patient drop-off

After patient drop-off

  • Send pet parent updates throughout the day
  • When the procedure is starting/ending
  • How the pet did during the procedure
  • How the pet is doing in post-op recovery
  • Send pics of the pet in post-op recovery (pet parents LOVE this!)
  • Give pickup time  
  • Send discharge instructions
  • Prepare pet parent for use/importance of E-collar/cone
  • Discuss any pending labwork (ie. histopath, cultures) 
  • How/when those results will be communicated
  • Set telemed recheck appointment for the next day and again in a week for more serious procedures


Day after

Post surgical checkup

  • How did the patient do overnight?
  • Eating/drinking/urinating/defecating?
  • The initial appearance of the incision 
  • Taking meds well?
  • Discussion of symptoms to monitor for deeming a recheck needed ASAP
  • Schedule in-clinic suture removal if applicable or additional telemed rechecks as suited to the patient's needs
  • Discuss continued care if needed (ie. rehab, therapeutic laser, chronic meds, follow-up surgical procedures)


Pre-Surgical Checklist

  • Your pet 🙂
  • Carrier
  • Leash
  • Pet insurance info if applicable
  • Payment
  • Medications if needed (ie. insulin, cardiac meds)
  • Contact info


Surgical drop-offs are usually stressful for pet owners, and one late arrival, a pet who has eaten, an unsigned form, or a confused pet owner will result in stress for your whole team and delays in the surgical schedule. A pre-surgical workflow utilizing telehealth will provide easy, transparent communication, extra education, faster check-ins, happier pet parents, and more effective team members.


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