When you do business with someone, you expect them to protect your personal information, like your driver’s license, credit card and Social Security number. Your clients expect the same from you.
Protecting Your Clients
That’s why the Federal Trade Commission, in an effort to create and promote a “culture of security,” is implementing the Red Flags Rule, which is scheduled to take effect May 1. Chances are good that the Red Flags Rule will affect you and the way you do business. The rule requires “creditors,” among others, to develop written plans to prevent and detect identity theft. And health-care professionals, including veterinarians, fall into the “creditors” category if they don’t always receive payment in full from their clients at the time of treatment.
We know, it sounds daunting. And, on the surface, the Red Flags Rule may seem like yet another government mandate on your business that will cost you both time and money. But identity theft is very real. And we, as veterinarians, need to do our best to protect our practices and our clients.
That’s why the AVMA wants to help. The AVMA is working with a certified identity theft specialist to conduct a series of informational Webinars about the Red Flags Rule. Two upcoming informational Webinars, on Tuesday, April 28, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Central Time, and Thursday, April 30, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time, will help you understand why this rule applies to us, why it’s important that you follow the federal compliance requirements and what else is available to you to help you work through the process.
Becoming compliant with the rule is important, and you can get help by contacting a local attorney yourself, hiring an identity theft or risk management consultant, or taking part in this separate, fee-based online program that has been discounted for AVMA members and can be accessed at our “identity theft” page. The Webinars will provide more information about the online training program.
Check the identity theft page on the AVMA Web site periodically for updates on regulatory compliance and additional training seminars.
A Friend Pays a Visit
We were honored over the past two weeks to spend some time with a veterinary friend and colleague from Afghanistan, Dr. Sayed Safi. Dr. Safi is the president and CEO of the Afghanistan Veterinary Association (AVA), and he came to the U.S. to learn more about the organizational aspects of association management. The AVA is a relatively new organization, and it is the first – and only – professional association in the whole of Afghanistan.
During his visit with the AVMA, Dr. Safi met with each division within the association, including our Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C., to learn what makes a successful veterinary association tick. He also traveled some, heading to the East Coast and our nation’s capital to explore everything from how to design a veterinary clinic, how to advocate on behalf of the profession and how to get the most out of the legislative process.
Dr. Safi’s visit, which was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and coordinated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, strengthens an existing relationship we have with him and the AVA that began at the International Veterinary Conference in Kuwait City in 2004 and continued when Dr. Beth Sabin, from our Education and Research Division, attended the first national AVA meeting in 2007. It is this type of outreach that allows us to continue to build strong relationships around the world. These bonds are important, because even though we may be separated by distance, we are connected through a common cause.
Bo Brings a Reminder
Well, Malia and Sasha Obama finally have their puppy, a Portuguese water dog named Bo. While the First Family has more resources at their disposal than most of us, they too need a plan when it comes to taking care of their dog in an emergency or a disaster, whether it’s man-made or natural.
That’s where their veterinarian – and in fact all veterinarians – play a vital role, because we can’t always rely on government to help us out if we find ourselves in the position of having to make sure our family – and the animals we care for and own – are safe.
We can’t stress enough how important it is for veterinarians to have their own emergency plan, whether you’re working in a lab or classroom setting, a private practice or out in the field. It’s equally important for you to help your clients understand how critical it is for them to have their own plan.
So in an effort to help both you and your clients, we have updated all of our materials dealing with emergencies. We’ve created a new CD-Rom version of our Emergency Preparedness and Response guide that’s easy to download or purchase, and is searchable by keyword or through the table of contents. This improved version of our original, bound version is an invaluable tool for you to use to develop your own emergency plan and to help others with theirs. It’s also great if you’re involved in local, regional or state emergency preparedness efforts.
Another product that is even more applicable to your own livelihood is Disaster Preparedness for Veterinary Practices. This publication helps you answer important questions like “What would you do to continue practicing veterinary medicine, to continue paying your staff, and to communicate with your clients?” if an emergency occurs.
While we’re on the topic, we also suggest that you check out Saving the Whole Family, an easy-to-use booklet that every pet owner should have. It’s available in both English and Spanish, can be downloaded directly off our Web site and can be purchased in packages of 25.
Getting back to Bo, the AVMA took advantage of the publicity surrounding the arrival of the First Pet by tapping behaviorist and former AVMA president Dr. Bonnie Beaver to help us spread the word to the general public about the joys and the challenges associated with welcoming a new dog into the home. You can hear Dr. Beaver’s comments on a new podcast, and while you’re at it, you can also check out the entire AVMA podcast library, which you can easily download for your own use.
There’s more to the AVMA Convention than what happens in the meeting rooms, and we’ve set up a Web page to help you and other convention attendees get ideas to fill your free time.
Check out our new AVMA Seattle Convention Concierge photo stream on Flickr.com, where convention-goers can share photos and ideas about their favorite things to do in and around Seattle. There are some great suggestions for must-see Seattle attractions already posted on the site. And if you’ve been to Seattle before, it’s easy to upload photos of your favorite places to give other attendees advice on what to see.
Our hope is that it will generate more enthusiasm for Seattle as a destination city and help attendees make the most out of their experience so they’ll want to return to AVMA Convention year after year.
If you have recommendations on places to visit, eat and shop, we’d love for you to share that information, too, on our new Convention Forum. The Forum is also a great place to let your friends, classmates and colleagues know you’re coming to Seattle.
We certainly hope to see you there!
|James O. Cook, MS, DVM
|W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA
Chief Executive Officer