Empowering your veterinary practice and customers with preventive care plans
By MWI Animal Health
How robust preventive care plans free up time and improve pets' health
Veterinary preventive care plans are a great way to empower both your practice and your clients. A robust plan can improve your clients' compliance and pet health outcomes. And these plans can benefit your employees too, easing marketing and administrative burdens that can sometimes create major roadblocks to growth.
With the right veterinary preventive care program, you can empower your clients to say yes to their pets' wellness while also empowering your employees to say yes to your clients' unique care needs. Partnering with the right preventive care plan helps your practice focus on what really matters — providing great care for your clients.
Preventive care programs can meet your clients' top 'wish list' needs
A 2021 survey by Packaged Facts asked pet owners what they'd like their veterinarians to prioritize in 2022. The top response from both dog and cat owners was focusing on preventive care.
Among their other top 11 priorities were lower cost of services, payment options, care plans to help manage costs, online options for purchasing medicine, and more.
"The preventive care plan approach answers six of the 11 pet owner priorities in 2022," shared Zachary Melton, technology and solution strategist for MWI Animal Health. "We have some really good guidance here on behalf of the pet owner that tells us this is what they want."
When preventive care plans are so important to your clients, what should your practice look for when searching for a plan? Seek a robust plan that offers customizations that ease your clients' concerns without adding the burden of plan administration and marketing to your employees.
Preventive care makes clients' lives easier
A good preventive care plan has your clients' needs in mind, first and foremost. If clients are uneasy or overwhelmed, they might not return to your practice, and they might stop following your recommendations for their pets. A good preventive care plan can ease some of your clients' uncertainty.
1. Helping your clients budget for pet care
One of the biggest client concerns is the cost of care. Sometimes you can implement loyalty programs that provide discounts to clients or suggest pet insurance programs. But other times, you need different options.
"If we can't necessarily change what we need to charge, we can change how we ask them to pay for it," Melton explained. "Preventive care plans address our clients' need to spread that cost of care out versus having to do it all at once."
The cost of pet care is sometimes unexpected, causing great hardship for your clients' budgets.
As Melton explained: "We ran some data. In 2021, $984 was the median weekly income in the United States. The average wellness visit cost throughout the U.S. was $415. So if you're making, on average, $984 a week, and your veterinarian asks you for $415, that's a really hard conversation for that DVM or technician to have. And it's a really hard decision for the pet owner to say yes to because that might mean they're sacrificing something at home."
A more practical approach is to budget for this by spreading out the cost over 12 months with a preventive care plan. So instead of paying $415 all at once, your clients can pay $35 per month, which is a much smaller hit on their budget.
By lessening the financial hit, you're making it easier for your clients to say yes to their pets' health.
2. Enhancing engagement and compliance
Not only do preventive care plans provide financial benefits to clients, but they also enhance engagement. Pet parents are more likely to visit your practice, more likely to keep up on parasiticides, and more likely to spend money with your practice in other ways as well.
"A preventive care program is about strengthening the bond you have with your current clients, making it easier for them to say yes to the preventive care that you're recommending," Melton explained.
If you have parasiticides built into your preventive care plan so clients can pay for the medication throughout the year, they won't go to your competition for the medication instead. They'll go where it's most convenient, getting the medication from a source they trust — your practice.
For example, PetVet Care Centers enrolled about 12,000 customers in a preventive care program, Melton shared. They reported seeing an increase of five to seven visits a year per client.
"It's more opportunities for you to connect and build that bond," Melton said.
PetVet Care Centers also reported seeing three times the dispensation rates of parasiticides.
Melton also shared statistics for a different group of 100 clinics that signed onto a preventive care plan. Premier Pet Care Plans reported that these clinics sold just below 12,000 doses of heartworm medication before signing up. After launching the plan, they dispensed nearly 125,000 doses. That's more than 934 percent growth. The same group saw similar results with flea and tick medication. Clients purchased just above 8,000 doses prior to a preventive care plan, with that number increasing to more than 100,000 doses afterward.
3. Providing the customizations your clients want
Look for plans that are customizable to your specifications without vendor lock-in or pre-picked favored manufacturers. You know what's best for your clients and what your clients want, so you'll want a preventive care plan that recognizes this.
"A preventive care program is about strengthening the bond you have with your current clients, making it easier for them to say yes to the preventive care that you're recommending.”
Preventive care programs help your practice
Preventive care programs help your business and your employees too, freeing up more time and paving the way for increased growth.
"A preventive care program represents a beneficial solution to veterinarians because of the administrating and marketing lift — burden wise — from your shoulders," Melton said.
Look for a program that's able to provide full support pre- and post-implementation. Plans should offer full cost transparency before launch. At launch, you'll want a program that will send a trainer on-site to help with enrollment and portal training.
1. Providing extensive billing support
Veterinary preventive care plans that provide tracking and support can save your staff a lot of time. Look for plans that allow for more than one form of payment on file so that missed payments are less likely. Then seek plans that proactively reach out to clients if they miss payments. Some will even reach out to clients up to 10 times a month.
A good preventive care program has a team that contacts clients in different ways, including email, text, and phone.
"We find often that people like to hide behind their mobile devices," Melton said. "So they typically respond to text pretty quick. But a good preventive care plan has all those different channels that they'll reach out through. You cannot put a value on that level of support."
"I understand how busy we are, especially with the last couple years that we've had," he added. "So being able to trust that someone else has your back and that you don't have to ask your staff to go away from client service and patient care and invest that precious time trying to collect money — I'm telling you, it's a differentiator."
2. Providing commission tracking software
On top of all of this, some preventive care programs even offer DVM commission tracking within the portal. They're set up to list associates by their name and compensation structure and tag relevant metrics with their invoices.
"Anytime a plan is sold or a preventive service is delivered, regardless of the DVM, it tracks that through the portal and goes directly to that doctor," Melton explained.
This can truly simplify things for practice managers or other employees in charge of payroll because they can just log into the portal and see the total they need to pay without taking time to track them and do calculations individually.
3. Freeing up time with robust marketing
Ideally, you'll want a preventive care program that partners with a marketing program to save your practice even more time. Look for a program that sends out an introductory email when you first launch the veterinary preventive care plan, making it easy for clients to enroll through the email itself.
The software should follow that initial email with a drip marketing campaign based on your clients' demographics. For example, a robust marketing program will remind clients about the preventive care plan when it also sends them a reminder about their upcoming wellness appointment. If a client misses the wellness appointment, they'll get an email that includes details about the preventive care program to help them save money and get that appointment scheduled. These types of features help your practice stay in touch with a variety of clients without needing your staff's personal involvement.
A robust preventive care program empowers both your clients and your staff to say yes more frequently. Your clients can more easily say yes to improving their pets' health. And your employees feel empowered to say yes to easily offering preventive care programs to your clients. These programs can remove your employees' burdens, providing them with more time to help clients rather than getting stuck with time-consuming administration tasks.