Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 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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62 Today's Veterinary Business VetPartners Corner It might sound crazy, but it's not. Situations like this one are happening more often as consum- ers face higher deductibles in order to afford monthly insurance premi- ums. Many patients cannot afford to pay their deductible upfront, and hospitals and physicians are having a harder time collecting it. A 2017 survey conducted by Harris Poll — — found that 78 percent of workers lived paycheck to paycheck, up 3 percent from the year before. Now, carry this over to the veterinary profession. How many times have you been unable to provide the gold standard of care because a pet owner could not pay in full at the time of service? How often has a client delayed or denied treatment because of the cost? This happens far too often, and it's having a drastic effect on the veterinary profession. Manageable Payments As workers live paycheck to pay- check, it's not surprising that new-client visits fell nearly every month from January 2015 to July 2017, according to the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. How can the veterinary profession thrive amid such a dramatic decline? How can you attract new clients? Does the answer lie in what human medicine is doing? Hu- man hospitals, which have offered payment plans for years, are now experimenting with prepayment options. That's where outsourced companies have entered the picture, offering interest-free loans and manageable payments. Human health care has realized the need for payment alternatives in order to meet changing econom- ic conditions. Karen Popa, former director of revenue cycle at Mun- son Healthcare, stated in an article in Becker's Hospital Review, "From a strategic standpoint, adopting a proactive approach to payment plans positions the organization to succeed as the overall industry demands more and more direct payment from its consumers." Jeff Hurst, former senior vice president of finance at Florida Hospi- tal/Adventist Health System, told the online publication RevCycle Intelli- gence that the mindset of "you need to pay in full at the time of service or you need to pay in full when you get your initial bill has to transform to a more consumer-friendly mindset." "You really need to be a little more flexible in how you're ap- proaching your patients in terms of those who want to satisfy their responsibility but just need a little bit more time," Hurst said. Multiple Benefits Veterinary practices face the same challenges — probably even more challenges — as human hospitals. How many unpaid patient bills are on your books? How often has a client had to delay treatment for financial reasons? How many clients have you referred to third-party fi- nancing, costing you 5 to 15 percent of your treatment fees? How often have you lost revenue because the pet owner declined a procedure? VetPartners Corner By Tony Ferraro You need a non-emergency medical procedure that costs about $6,000. Since your health insurance plan includes a $6,500 annual deductible, your doctor asks you to prepay for the procedure. What do you do? Why not follow human medicine? Physicians offer payment plans to clients, and a veterinary practice can, too.

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