A recent national survey has taken a new look at how many veterinary professionals use e-mail and the Web to communicate with their colleagues and gather various information—and how few have embraced the Internet to connect with clients.
The Digital Clinic Study draws on responses from more than 2,000 veterinarians, veterinary practice managers, veterinary technicians, veterinary students, and veterinary technician students. Fleishman-Hillard International Communications released results of the December 2007 online survey during the Western Veterinary Conference. The public relations company sponsored the survey in cooperation with the AVMA and the American Animal Hospital Association.
"The Digital Clinic Study has given us fascinating new insights into how impactful the digital age is on the veterinary profession," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA executive vice president, in response to the survey. "It is exciting to see that, in many ways, veterinarians are ahead of the curve when it comes to using this new technology."
About 88 percent of the survey respondents said the Internet enhances their access to the latest science and research. About 64 percent said the Internet makes their work and practice more efficient, and 61 percent said the Internet helps them provide better care for animals. The respondents turned to Web sites for information on professional and medical matters ranging from veterinary associations to animal genetics.
Only 44 percent of survey respondents said the Internet helps them communicate with their clients, however, and just 32 percent said the Internet makes their practice more profitable. While 69 percent of respondents said their practice offers a Web site, only 22 percent said their practice sends e-mail appointment reminders and just 18 percent said their practice sends electronic newsletters on animal care.
In addition, while 67 percent of respondents said clients frequently bring them information on animal care from the Internet, most said the information confuses clients.
When respondents turn to the Internet themselves, they are most confident in information from veterinary schools and research institutions—with information from veterinary associations and organizations a close second.
"It's clear from the Digital Clinic Study there is a tremendous need for clear, credible information online," said Dr. John W. Albers, AAHA executive director. "As we continue to grow and expand AAHA's services to clinics and consumers, this information will enable us to make smart, strategic decisions that benefit veterinary professionals and pet owners alike."
The complete report on the survey is available at www.avma.org/reference/digital_clinic_survey_report.pdf.
FROM THE DIGITAL CLINIC SURVEY, A DECEMBER 2007 SURVEY OF VETERINARY PROFESSIONALS
" Over the past six months, have you visited Web sites for information on the following topics? "