The Pulse Of Veterinary Medicine
Vet-To-Vet Conversation With IDEXX
As a lifelong cat lover and owner of four geriatric cats, I know how the bonds with our feline family members increase with time. Our cats are an integral part of our lives, and as they age, their affection for us expands and our love for them takes on additional meaning. Our pets can live long and happy lives but only if they receive regular veterinary care, including preventive care. We in the profession know this, but how do we inspire other pet owners—your clients—to appreciate the value that preventive care brings to their pets as they age?
Preventive care, sometimes referred to as wellness care, is one of the most established and fastest growing trends in veterinary medicine. Yet only a fraction of owners that have strong bonds with their pets provide them with regular preventive care diagnostic screenings for common diseases. This is true for dog owners and even more for feline families.
What new ideas can you bring to your practice in 2015 to expand the level of preventive care enjoyed by your patients?
Here are my top 5:
- Bundle services. Bundle preventive care services and charge differently than for the same services you would provide for a sick animal. Say your care package includes, as it should for a canine, a physical examination; blood work; tick-borne disease, heartworm and fecal parasites tests; and radiographs, as needed. Bundle those services for a single package price, with a discount applied to the sum of the individual services. This will encourage pet owners to make a preventive care investment in their pets’ health.
These results provide an important patient-specific baseline that allows for tracking over time. Trends from baselines can identify issues early before they become serious and more costly and can be tracked easily with IDEXX VetConnect PLUS. So, it is perfectly reasonable to charge a lower amount for diagnostics as part of a preventive care visit than you would for the same panel on a sick patient. A lower price point, especially if presented as a bundled deal, will appeal to your pet owners and increase client compliance. It will also increase your practice’s level of care and income in the process. This approach can help price-sensitive clients and increase compliance from pet owners to invest in their pet’s health and well-being.
- Provide real-time results. Run diagnostics during your patients’ visits and present the results to pet owners face-to-face, while you have in them in your practice. Clients will see more value in your services, and you will increase compliance with your follow-on recommendations. IDEXX’s in-house instruments and tests and VetConnect PLUS are specially designed to give you the fast turnaround and technician productivity that allows you this higher level of service in minutes and during your patients’ appointments. We call this “Real-Time Care.”
- Promote a highly engaged staff. Provide free or discounted preventive care services to your staff members. As they personally experience the benefits of tracking their pets’ health, they will become your strongest preventive care advocates. There is nothing that replaces the passion that comes from personal experience. This investment will provide a huge return for your practice. At IDEXX, we offer our field sales professionals subsidized preventive care expenses for their pets for the same reason.
- Communicate before and after the visit. Be sure to communicate with your clients before the visit, telling them what to expect (and to bring a fresh poop sample). After the visit, explain the value of preventive care to the primary care giver and other family members alike, when possible.
- Offer preventive care plans. Consider adopting a monthly preventive care payment plan. IDEXX Petly Health Plan Management makes this type of service practical.
We all want our four-legged family members to live long, happy lives. I greatly enjoy our four geriatric cats—with an average age of over 14 years (or 72 human years!) between them. We can help pet owners appreciate the value of regular preventive care with the appropriate diagnostics and animal health care services.
To help strengthen the value of preventive care testing, we are pleased to be introducing this summer a revolutionary new kidney function test in our reference laboratories, called SDMA. SDMA (symmetric dimethylarginine) will enable you to diagnose chronic kidney disease in cats and dogs months or even years earlier than traditional methods, making it possible to intervene earlier and more effectively manage the disease. My cats have a one in three chance of getting this devastating diagnosis1 when it is too late to do anything about it; SDMA changes all that. Once introduced, we will be adding SDMA at no extra cost to all of our routine reference laboratory chemistry profiles.
As you consider the ideas above, be sure to ask your IDEXX Veterinary Diagnostic Consultant for their support and how to use your IDEXX clinical and business solutions to their fullest. This is what IDEXXers, myself included, enjoy most—helping you provide the highest standard of care to your patients, helping you grow your practice in ways your clients value and helping you strengthen the bonds that matter most.
From all of us at IDEXX, have a safe, healthy and profitable new year.
- Lulich JP, Osborne CA, O’Brien TD, Polzin DJ. Feline renal failure: questions, answers, questions. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet. 1992;14(2):127–153.