Investigation of the effects of a practice-level communication training program on veterinary health-care team members' communication confidence, client satisfaction, and practice financial metrics.
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OBJECTIVE: To investigate effects of an intensive 2-day practice-level communication skills training program (CSTP) with a 3-month follow-up communication in practice program (CIPP) on veterinary health-care team members' communication confidence, client satisfaction, and practice financial metrics. SAMPLE: 5 US companion animal veterinary practices. PROCEDURES: Following pilot testing at 1 veterinary practice, communication skills training was performed on-site at 4 practices. The 2-day CSTP focused on veterinary communication-specific content. The CIPP included in-practice training sessions every other week to reinforce and build upon communication skills. Team members' communication skills confidence (before and after the CSTP and after the CIPP) and client satisfaction with veterinary visits (2 months before and 3 months after the CSTP) were assessed with surveys. Practice-level financial metrics were collected for 18 months. Variables of interest were compared among time points. RESULTS: Measures of team member communication skills confidence and initiation of client conversations regarding the value of goods and services were significantly greater after the CIPP than before the CSTP. Composite communication skills confidence scores 3 months after the CSTP were positively correlated with the mean practice transaction charge and percentage change in the number of heartworm tests performed in the 3 months after the CSTP, compared with results for the same 3 months in the previous year. Measurements of client satisfaction were high before and after the CSTP. There was no significant change in financial metrics in the 3 months after CSTP, compared with the same 3 months in the previous year. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This study highlighted opportunities to increase veterinary health-care team members' communication confidence and identified future considerations for communication training in veterinary workplaces.