Today's Veterinary Business

DEC 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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58 Today's Veterinary Business Merchandising One issue we tackle when I present my marketing workshop at veterinary conferences is how to deal with this potential loss of 10 to 20 percent of our income. I'm com- forted by many of the suggestions from attendees who are already thinking about the latest threat, and I want to share some with you. It's up to you to decide which ideas, if any, to apply to your practice. If these suggestions stimulate you to come up with more ideas, I'd love to hear them. First, I want you to consider something a number of attend- ees have shared with me. That is, do you really want to save your pharmacy? Think about it. While the pharmacy is a convenience for clients and a dependable source of income for the practice, it can be a real pain in the rear at times. Someone needs to spend time con - tacting distributors to find the best pricing and place the order. Then the order needs to be unpacked, inventoried and put on shelves. Filling prescriptions takes time and needs to be done accurately. Then there's the ever-present reality of employee theft. Would it be a better and more profitable use of your time to not have to deal with being a "pill pusher" and to devote more time to practicing medicine? I'm not saying you should give up your pharmacy, but consider the possibility. As several veterinar- ians have told me, they'd be happy to give up their pharmacy and then raise their prices to compensate for the loss. They'd rather be compen- sated for their skills. At this point, I'll assume you want to keep your pharmacy, or at least the income. Here are some of the many ideas I've gleaned during my marketing presentations. Every Pet Gets at Least One Injection This is something I learned from a mentor many years ago. Injections guarantee immediate dosing of the appropriate medication and is something doctors routinely do in human medicine. A client can't usually price-shop injections when he is already in the office with a pet that needs help. If you're not using injectable medicines regularly, rethink this important medical procedure and charge appropriately. And if you're a holistic/functional medicine doctor like me, use injectable herbal medicines with or in place of traditional pharmaceuticals. Use Supplements Speaking of holistic med- icine, every pet can benefit from supplements. Fatty acids, antioxi- dants, enzymes and probiotics, and joint support are just a few of the products that can benefit patients. Adding one or more supplements to a patient's treatment will benefit the pet, possibly prevent side ef - fects from prescribed medications and help the bottom line. To count- er internet competition, consider private-label products or purchas- ing from manufacturers that sell only to doctors. Merchandising COMPETITION Prescribe Limited Quantities Let me give an example. We know that a three-week minimum dose of antibiotics is needed to treat pyoderma, but nothing says we need to prescribe that three-week dose at the time of diagnosis. Whether you fill the prescription or script it to a pharmacy, prescribe a seven-day dose, recheck the pet to make sure the treatment is working — charge for the recheck — and then fill the rest or switch to anoth- er therapy after the recheck. Do Rechecks It took me a while to realize the importance of frequent rechecks, but I no longer rely on owners to diagnose improvements in their pets' condition in order to relieve my responsibility as the doctor. Rechecks are needed to continue medications — see points 3 and 5 — and often uncover additional treatable diseases. Yes, some clients complain about the hassle and expense, but we tell them that without a recheck we won't put their pet's health at risk by continuing to prescribe medications that have possible side effects. When I began my career in veterinary medicine, our profession faced the challenge of low-cost vaccine and spay/neuter clinics. Then we saw flea preventives show up in stores. Then corporate medicine began testing the solo practitioner. This was followed by many of our over-the-counter products ending up on the internet. And now we have an even tougher challenge: the loss of pharmacy income to local drug stores promising cheap medications. Re-examine your pharmacy 1 2 3 4 Continued on Page 60 By Shawn Messonnier, DVM It's OK to walk away from drug sales, but whether you do or not, revenue lost to outside sellers can be recaptured in other ways.

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