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The Front Office Pet: Pros and Cons of ‘Hiring’ a Clinic Therapy Pet

Working in healthcare, you’re more than likely well aware of what the term ‘iatrophobia’ means: the fear of doctors. Iatrophobia usually develops in patients after they have had a traumatic experience involving a physician, or in a hospital or clinic.

This fear keeps people from making life-saving appointments with their doctor. How can you treat a patient that is a constant no-show? How can you treat a patient that refuses to even set up an appointment with you?

Sending reminder notices in the mail and charging patients a no-show fee doesn’t help motivate them to take better care of themselves. Fear is a tricky beast. How can you help your patients move past their anxiety? You can help them by providing your patients with a support system built into the workings of your clinic.

With the aid of a front office pet, you can quell the fears of a child afraid to get her booster shot and of an adult male who faints at the thought of giving blood for a routine test. But know this: there are both advantages and disadvantages to ‘hiring’ a four-legged staffer.

To keep your clinic running smoothly and your patients happy, make sure you have a small business insurance policy to back you up when an employee’s tail wag can’t.

Advantages of Furry Front Desk Employee

-According to a 2012 study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, employees who were able to bring their pups to work reported having lower stress levels.

-Emotional support animals (ESAs) have been found to help assuage the following symptoms:

A patient is more likely to make their appointment if they feel that the office is a safe space.

-Domesticated animals are a source of entertainment. Who wouldn’t love watching a dog rollover and making a toddler giggle when they’re waiting for test results? It’ll take their mind off of their worries if only for a short time.

Disadvantages of Furry Front Desk Employee

-Patients are allergic to pet dander. 55 percent of Americans test positive to one or more allergens, including pet dander, pollen and gluten. If patients erupt in sneezing and coughing fits once they enter your office, they’ll identify your office with their allergens and irritants and will take their medical business to another office.

-Patients have a fear of dogs. 21 percent of Americans fear dogs.

-Patients dislike cats. In a poll conducted by the Associated Press and Petside it was found that the American public prefers dogs to cats 74 percent to 41 percent. If any of your patients believe that cats are “nasty, stinking creatures,” they won’t continue to make appointments with you.

-Patient could be harmed by furry employee. Dogs and cats agree: their tails can only be pulled so many times before they snap. If a cat should scratch a patient or a dog nip, you will be held liable for damages. Fortunately, small business insurance will cover you should your four-legged staffer have a bad day at the office.

Like with anything, there are pros and cons that come with every decision, including ‘hiring’ an emotional support animal. With small business insurance though, you know immediately that it’s the right decision. Visit CoverHound to learn more about how to protect your business!

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