Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

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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39 February/March 2019 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Of course, the client tuned you out shortly after the presenting com- plaint was addressed. In the client's defense, how could she possibly ab- sorb all the information required to be the great pet owner she aspires to be in one brief annual visit? Remarkably, we've built a hugely successful profession on this model. A model that calls for one visit, once a year, over a matter of minutes, in one brick-and- mortar facility. Despite this, veterinary spend- ing was up $2.56 billion, or 14 per- cent, from 2016 to 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey. The pets that saw us got great care, pet families enjoyed the unconditional love that comes from living with a fur baby, and pets lived longer, hap- pier lives. Amazing. Big smile. Pat on the back. But remember that buggy whip sales were booming as Mr. Ford quietly tinkered in his garage. The Clock Is Ticking For now, and likely over the next few years — less than five in my es- timation — the foundation of com- panion animal veterinary practice will remain anchored to a physical facility. Think bricks. Fast-forward a few years and things will look dramatically different. Think clicks. The next-generation practice will provide consumers with a variety of modalities designed to provide personalized advice and care in pursuit of a pet's best life. Among the biggest challenges facing all of health care, both vet- erinary and human, is how to best scale care. We have an enormous shortage of health care providers and skyrocketing demand. De- mand for care is up, caregivers are down, something's got to give. The old one visit, one doctor, one exam room, once a year model will not hold up for doctors or for patients much longer. Doctors and teams can't work any harder, but we can work smarter. Technology (clicks) helps answer the question. The future bricks and clicks model holds the key. I believe that veterinarians and their teams belong at the center of the entire pet experience. From whelping to end of life, from feeding to behavior to medicine to proactive preventive care. Pet owners continue to look to us as the experts in all things pet. Our profession remains one of the most admired; our favorability ratings are through the roof. All this against a backdrop of multiple forces working to discon- nect vets from vet med. Things like 1-800 Pet Med, Google, groomers, breeders, pet stores — you know the list. How can we better connect vets and vet med? What can we do going forward to place our profes- sion squarely at the center of the pet experience? Move Over, Boomers One of my heroes, President Abra- ham Lincoln, was quoted as saying, "The best way to predict your future is to create it." What future are we going to create? The future I see will rely far less on a physical facility and far more on technolo- gy. We are moving from bricks to clicks. Consumers are insisting, and we had better listen. Have you noticed the dominant force in the pet space today? It's not boomers anymore, it's millen- nials (the Pet Gen). Millennials are demanding that care be delivered when, where and how they want it. On-demand access. Good for them — they should insist. Their pets are hugely important to them. Extend- ed practice hours and being open Sundays won't cut it. Worse yet, lon- ger hours only contribute to more burnout within our profession. The practice of the future will both meet the demands of pet own- ers and provide a better work life for doctors and teams. What will it look like? A mobile cloud-based electron- ic health record (EHR) that captures care at every venue will be the glue that connects it all. Care is coordi- nated and managed outside the traditional primary brick-and-mortar facility. Records are moving from the exam room to the living room. The pet owner is given choices. Bricks, clicks, mobile, voice, call centers all result in the veterinary team touching the pet family multiple times a year. Client education sky rockets, compliance increases, pet families are happier, pets live longer and the vet team remains firmly at the center of the pet experience throughout the pet's life. Alternatively, we can cede our position as the pet expert and Pet owners call your practice, make an appointment, drive to your hospital and wait in the lobby. We see them once a year if we're lucky. By some estimates, half the pets in the U.S. won't see a veterinarian this year. We then have maybe 20 minutes to address the presenting complaint and hopefully squeeze in a few minutes to educate on immunizations, dental care, parasites, nutrition and behavior. An entire year of care compressed into 20 minutes. Community CREATIVE DISRUPTION By Bob Lester, DVM Continued on Page 41 Bricks and clicks Veterinary medicine will be in a world of hurt if it doesn't embrace new and better ways of serving pets and clients.

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