Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

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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21 December 2017/January 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM by the Veterinary Hospital Managers Associ- ation, reported that 11.5 percent of practices surveyed in 2014 offered preventive care plans. The number increased to 20 percent in 2015, yet in a April 2017 survey, only 11.5 percent of hospitals reported offering wellness plans. These statistics represent one more way we are failing to listen to clients and provide what they want. Wellness plans are client-retention tools. In the February 2016 Insiders' Insight, survey respondents perceived that clients were dis- playing different consumer attitudes, namely that "clients are better educated, more likely to shop around for the best price and are look- ing for more payment options." One way to manage these shifting attitudes and enhance client retention is to prevent them from seek- ing services elsewhere. Fundamentally, wellness plans are loyalty plans. In exchange for the opportunity to pay monthly for bundled services, clients agree to a one-year commitment to receive their pet's preventive care at your hospital. Research has proven that the client's commitment is not limited to preventive care services. One case study measured a 58 percent increase in mean spending on medical services among clients with wellness plans and a nonmedical, out-of-plan spending increase of 28 percent. Wellness plans help foster bonds of trust between health care teams, patients and cli- ents. It is critical that hospitals offering wellness plans honor these bonds by providing excep- tional client experiences and medical care. In the absence of such commitment, clients might be left feeling disillusioned and dissatisfied. Wellness plans enhance the quality of patient care. Wellness plans increase patient visits, allowing for early detection of disease and appropriate patient management. More visits allow for more time to discuss important topics with owners, such as weight control, pain man- agement and dental disease. In "How Well- ness Plans Grow Veterinary Practice," dental compliance jumped from 8.4 percent to 74.4 percent for enrolled pets once annual dental cleanings were included in more comprehen- sive wellness plans. Many health care teams find that wellness plans help shorten examination room times as owners participating in the programs require minimal conversation about money. This allows team members to focus on the pet and the client. Team members report lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction in hospitals that embrace wellness plans. Wellness plans help manage client financial limitations. A 2017 article published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association examined the impact of client financial lim- itations on career satisfaction and perceived burnout in small animal veterinarians. The role of the veterinarian in discussing the costs of care with clients was retrospectively examined. As explained in the article, pet owners represented a paradox in expectations. On one hand, they believed that the veterinarian's focus should be on the pet's care and well-being rather than on the cost of care. On the other hand, pet owners expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of conversations regarding the anticipated lifetime cost of care for the pet, strategies to help pet owners manage these costs and, in more immediate situations, a lack of candid conversation about the cost of sick care diagnostics and treatments. These findings highlight an opportunity to engage in critical conversations with clients. The importance of helping clients find ways to say "yes" to recommendations was underscored by the authors' findings that the veterinarians surveyed felt that the burnout rate in the profession was "moderate to substantial," as measured by 91 percent of respondents. Forty- nine percent of individuals rated themselves as moderately to substantially professionally burned out. Client financial limitations rated as either a "moderate or primary contributor to professional burnout." Wellness plans contain the best recom- mendations for the annual preventive care needs of the pet. Presented as a bundled service, wellness plans are easy for owners to understand what they receive in exchange for a monthly payment. A monthly payment plan allows owners to budget properly. Veterinarians should empha- size to owners that the plans are designed to meet the needs of the healthy pet and do not cover accidents or illnesses. Additionally, alter- natives to help pet owners plan for the future, such as pet health insurance and third-party payment plans, should be discussed with every client. Dr. Wendy Hauser is assistant vice president of veterinary relations for the Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group. She represents the American Animal Hospital Association in the American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates. 3 4 5 Trupanion Express TM saves you critical time with: Quick online claims Direct payments in minutes Less paperwork Best medical care with just a few clicks. Innovative technology at NO COST to your hospital See demo at TRUPANION.COM/TRUPANION-EXPRESS 855.587.7711 Trupanion is a registered trademark owned by Trupanion, Inc. Underwritten in Canada by Omega General Insurance Company and in the United States by American Pet Insurance Company, 6100-4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108. Please visit AmericanPetInsurance.com to review all available pet health insurance products.

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