How veterinary innovation benefits companion animal veterinary practices
Three technology solutions that modernize veterinary practices
1. Preventive pet care plans
Today's subscription-based economy lets users access everything from food to music, TV, and movies to workouts, notes Tina Wiseman, vice president of product strategy at MWI Animal Health, in an interview with the Veterinary Innovation Podcast.1 She says that the same monthly subscription model can reap huge benefits in the veterinary practice space too.
For instance, a subscription-based pet preventive care plan lets pet parents sign up for a plan that best fits their pets' needs, offering routine services such as vaccinations, flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, deworming, lab tests, dental care, and regular health visits. Paying a monthly fee allows clients to spread out the charges over the year instead of having to come up with large amounts of cash at once.
Preventive pet care plans also enable veterinary practices to become the most important information source for pet parents. Because they're paying that monthly fee, pet owners tend to turn to the veterinary practice with concerns and questions.
Another benefit of preventive pet care plans is that veterinary staff don't have to chase down clients to wrangle payments. Signing up pet parents on a monthly subscription plan eliminates the need to collect payment because clients pay through the platform. "That enables the veterinarian clinic to really focus on the care for the pet and not worry about the back end of administration," Wiseman says. "It also allows the pet parent to know exactly what kind of services that they're going to be getting as a result of the plan that they sign up for."
2. Pharmacy delivery
Considering the continuous rise in overall online sales, one potentially overlooked source of revenue for veterinary practices is home delivery. With a home delivery pharmacy provider, practices are able to meet the refill needs of clients, as well as recommend over-the-counter and nutritional therapies.
"Instead of the pet parent thinking, 'Oh gosh, I've got to run to the big-box retailer or go to some other online outlet to get this,' the client can purchase the product from their veterinary practice, who partners with a pharmacy provider and/or has an online store on their website, and have it delivered to their home. This creates a win-win solution for the veterinary practice as well as for the pet parents.
3. Client communication platformsWith options such as email marketing, a retention calendar, a patient portal, analytics, and client rewards programs, a client engagement platform is a valuable asset for veterinary practices. Not only does it free up time for staff by automating communications such as appointment reminders, but it also helps increase client retention and revenue.
Why customization and automation matter
Customizing both the services that a veterinary practice offers clients — such as preventive care plans — and the communications it sends out allows it to truly engage with clients. Veterinary staff can meet the needs of patients, drive client compliance and retention, and grow revenue.
Automation of client communications, such as promotional messages or appointment reminders, creates a better customer experience and alleviates the burden of manually sending emails and making appointment reminder phone calls. With that time saved, veterinarians can do more of what they do best — caring for patients.
When considering a preventive care plan, veterinary practices should look for a program they can customize to their needs, allowing them to choose the services and products they offer, as well as the pricing framework. For example, they can set up plans according to the size and type of pet, along with age, and each plan could offer different preventive services/products.
"A monthly subscription plan enables the veterinarian clinic to really focus on the care for the pet and not worry about the back end of administration."
Consider offering tiered price points to help with affordability. A bronze plan, for example, could include preventive basics, while a gold plan could add top-tier offerings, such as dental cleanings, health screenings, and premium food. This gives clients different options for plans that support the health and well-being of both their pet and their wallet.
Veterinary practices should leverage automatic communications found in a client engagement platform to inform pet parents what programs are available to them. This takes away the burden of having to "sell" services like preventive care plans and makes it easier to talk with pet parents because they already know about the services offered.
As an example of how client communications helped practices "sell" their care plan offering, Wiseman says that in the past six practices in which she's implemented a preventive pet care plan and automated communications, 46 percent of pet parents have enrolled in a plan before they have ever even been into the clinic.1 The clients had already received information from the practice about the care plan offering so there wasn't a need to try "sell" the care plan.
The connection between tech-enabled services and client compliance
When clients sign up for a monthly subscription, they're coming into the office more for checkups, choosing more preventative services, and interacting with the practice on a more regular basis. A client engagement platform takes care of the marketing, communication, and administration with email reminders about appointments and health needs, as well as a patient portal for pet parents to ask questions and schedule visits.
This technology increases client compliance by engaging pet parents in continual communication and care. It also "enables the veterinary practice to identify what's happening in terms of the number of doses that the pet parent is still needing to utilize for their pets," says Wiseman.
Boosts in revenue
Though these technology platforms boost client compliance and practice-client communications, they can also generate an uptick in revenue, notes Wiseman. Instead of pet parents buying one flea, tick, and heartworm dose at an appointment, they're getting them more regularly as part of their preventive care plan. This makes clients more open to other products and services their veterinary practice may offer "because now it becomes more financially feasible for them to engage in those additional services," Wiseman explains.
However, Wiseman acknowledges that it isn't just about dollars and cents for veterinary practices. They're primarily concerned with helping pets stay as healthy as possible and living the longest lives they can. Adopting innovative technology like preventive pet care plans, pharmacy delivery, and a client communication platform is a great way to do just that.
1. The Veterinary Innovation Podcast. "Leveraging Technology for Practice Enablement & Client Engagement."
3 March 2022. Available at: https://veterinaryinnovationpodcast.com/episodes/leveraging-technology-for-practice-enablement-and-client-engagement/