"Keeping up" is one of the top things that horse owners want from their veterinarians. Veterinarians want to keep up, but sometimes they aren't very good at letting clients know that they are doing so. Merck Health Matters was designed to bring not only medical information to veterinarians from experts in their fields, but to help veterinarians translate that information to educate their horse-owning clients. And studies have shown that better communication results in better compliance and more loyal clients.
Merck Health Matters features short videos by experts who talk you through the topics in such a way as to help you transfer that knowledge to clients. There are client resources designed for you to download and hand out, such as infographics. There are links to peer-reviewed research papers if you want to delve more in-depth into a topic as well as links to other industry resources. There are audio files (MP3s) of the videos that allow you to download them or click on them from your mobile device and listen to the recording of the video. There are transcripts of the videos that you can read online or download for reading at your leisure.
The idea of Merck Health Matters after Merck sponsored a video Round Table on EPM that was recorded during the 2015 AAEP Convention. This 1.5-hour, in-depth gathering of experts offered veterinarians an up-to-date dive into what was happening on the research and clinical sides of EPM diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. The participants were: Steve Reed, DVM, DACVIM; Rob McKay, BVSc(Dist), DACVIM, PhD; Amy L. Johnson, DVM, DACVIM (LAIM & Neurology); Monica Aleman, MZV, PhD, DACVIM; Nicola Pusterla, DrMedVeT, MedVet, DACVIM; and Wendy Vaala, VMD, DACVIM.
Bryant Craig, DVM, a Merck Equine Technical Services Veterinarian, offers information on Equine Influenza. In his 4.5-minute video, Craig discusses immunology and vaccination protocols, then takes a deeper look at equine influenza and some of the changes that have occurred and how those changes are affecting our equine population.
Craig stressed that when discussing vaccination with your clients, "We want to remind them that vaccination is still the most efficacious and economical way of preventing disease in the horse when coupled with a good biosecurity program. And we can tailor those vaccination programs to meet the individual needs of that horse or herd that we’re protecting."
There is a very useful downloadable PDF titled Vaccinations and Expectations that you can use to not only help your clients know what to expect when their horses are vaccinated, but that allows you to record the vaccines that you are giving on a form the client can keep that has a reminder of when boosters are due.
Fairfield Bain, DVM, MBA, DACVIM, DACVP, DAVECC, a Merck Equine Technical Services Veterinarian, discusses biosecurity in a 5-minute video. His video is designed to help veterinarians, techs and vet staff better communicate biosecurity concerns and solutions to clients.
There is also a Merck Disease Spread infographic that you can download and share with clients and quick links to six papers from the AAEP Biosecurity Guidelines.
Lois Toll, DVM, of Littleton Equine Medical Center in Colorado,
talks about the aging horse as a unique client. She explained how she wants to help veterinarians and their staffs to understand how to convey your recommendations for care of these older horses in a way to get owner compliance.
Toll's 16-minute video (or the transcript) offers many take-away tidbits that you can use to educate clients, such as: How can you decide how “old” your horse is? After age 5 take the horse’s age and multiply by 3. So a 20-year-old horse is equivalent to a 60-year-old person.
You can also download or share the Helping Your Horse Age Gracefully client infographic.
David Horohov, PhD, chair of the Department of Veterinary Science and director of the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky, leads you through a discussion on immunology designed to help you explain this complicated topic to your clients.
Horohov said that when discussing vaccinations with your clients, it’s wise to communicate that a strong immune system means a healthier horse.
In Horohov's 14-minute video, for one example, he compares the horse's immune system to a young basketball team. "You start out with the fundamentals that you have. You have really good players; they have lots of skills. But without proper coaching, and without proper training and practice (i.e., vaccination), that team may never reach its full potential."
Horohov also gives you a concise, easy-to-convey explanation of why vaccination boosters are important in horse disease management.
Merck also offers a downloadable client infographic on Why Immunology is Important that you can use in your own practice.
In the most recent installments of Merck Health Matters, Vaala offers tips to equine veterinarians on how to manage clients and their horses in regard to equine parasites. She has an 8-minute video on parasite assays and drug options, and a 9-minute video on sustainable equine parasite control.
Merck also offers a client-friendly infographic: Parasite Management Plan for Your Young Horse. This is a chronological approach to parasite control for foals to yearlings during the first 12 months of life.
Be sure to take advantage of all of the videos and resources on Merck Health Matters.