[Important note: this article has been automatically translated from the original Italian language.]
Veterinary Health Plans: why structure them for your Clinic?
Recent years have marked the transition from pet owner to pet parent.
A change that goes beyond just using a word.
If you ask pet owners how they describe their relationship with their pet some very interesting data emerge:
- Three percent simply describe them as pets;
- 1% as a companion;
- 8% as a friend;
- 46% as a family member
- 33% as a son.
Here is the transformation from pet owner to pet parent. (1)
This phenomenon affects 10.1 million cats and 8.7 million dogs in Italy.
The first direct spillover of this sentiment can be seen in the Increase in the familybudget devoted to pet care and maintenance that has occurred in recent years.
- For a dog, 1562 euros are spent each year,
- For a cat 1208 euros.
Veterinary expenses account for 341 and 194 euros, respectively.
What is the situation of the Veterinary market?
The veterinary practitioner is in a growing market estimated at +7.5 percent each year, pets are synonymous with child or family member.
However, we see low medicalization, low adherence to primary prevention, especially in cats, and unstructured veterinary attendance.
- 26% of pet parents take their pet to the vet twice a year,
- 22% only once,
- 5% less than once and
- 2 % of pets have never been visited.
Such low attendance, involving 55 percent of pets translates into a huge recruitment potential for preventive medicine.
Equally important is thepotential impact on pet health.
Preventive medicine: how to improve the culture of prevention in pet owners?
The answer is provided by theworld health organization (WHO) link when it defines preventive medicine as:
a clinical discipline of veterinary sciences, which aims to preserve the state of good health throughout the life of the animal, identify early and limit the risks of degradation.
How to structure a health plan for dogs and cats.
To structure a Prevention Plan, it is necessary to organize and plan a set of veterinary services dedicated to a group of patients homogeneous in species, sex, age or clinical risk, which has an established duration over time.
Usually 12 months.
Before addressing the topic of organization, let us dwell on the relationship with the pet parent who, often, indeed almost always, does not know what a health plan is and how it works.
So he has no idea of the benefits that a health plan can give him and his pet.
We need to start from here!
What tools do you need to have to properly manage health plans?
Health Plans need to be managed for their organization through a management systemthat gives you the ability to:
- see the “Health Plans” agenda integrated into the general agenda
- manage a list dedicated to the health plan
- manage prepaid
- Manage reminder messages to be sent to the client before scheduled visits
- Share health plan data with all physicians in the facility.
Creates the need for the prevention plan in the owner
To propose the health plan, you need to establish a partnership, between you, veterinary doctor and owner, articulated on the 4Ps.
- Predictive: let’s put crystal balls aside.
At a Boxer or German Shepherd’s first pediatric visit, you know and have a pretty good idea of the possible critical issues it might encounter as it grows up and as an adult.
This is the right time to start thinking about (and proposing) a plan that will last for years.
- Preventive: The implementation of the previous stage. Put the preventive plan in place and adapt it year after year.
- Participatory: most of the therapeutic success lies in the hands of the care giver, so they need to be educated, motivated and accompanied.
- Customized: continuing on the example of a Boxer and a German Shepherd, the risks are different, the proposal will be tailored to the patient accordingly.
Basically you need to build a simple, clear, usable pathway for the pet-owner pair that results in a shift of prevention management from pet parent to your veterinary facility.
The implementation of the health plan in 7 steps
Establishing the content of the plans: the project
As an example you could insert:
- vaccine prophylaxis,
- parasitic risk,
- Growth pathologies,
- nutrition plan,
- chronic patient
- geriatric patient
are some of the areas of intervention to be included in prevention plans.
You can structure several different plans, the important thing is to be able to see them all in the same dashboard and to be able to manage them easily from the management.
Assessing needs for management: automations
The more you have an automated system for managing plans, the simpler their proposal will be.
The experience must be easy for the client and also for the veterinarian offering it.
Spreadsheets, paper sheets do not have these requirements.
Defining roles and responsibilities: human resources
Does the whole staff take part in the proposal of the plans or only a part? Who is participating? The vets, the technicians?
It is essential to establish who does what in order to build a path within which the pet parent is accompanied.
Research published by Kaystone tells us that1 percent of pets have activated health plans.
The reason is very simple, pet parents do not know what they are and what they are for.
Hence the need to communicate on the topic with their customers.
In addition, through successive analyses, (from BI tools) you could assess which DPs were least sold and decide whether to remove them from the offer, or communicate them more appropriately.
Putting it into practice: practicing
When using a new ultrasound machine or performing a new procedure there is a learning curve that is steeper the more ultrasounds you do.
The mechanism is the same when health plans are proposed. Exercise is one of the keys to success.
Starting and ending points: the goals
At three, six, nine and 12 months. What type of plans, in relation to its customer base, and how many plans can be activated?
Accepting NOs: negative feedback
As with all other benefits, the decision is up to the client.
Rejection of a health plan proposal must be accepted.
The reasons may be different: what if the previous 6 steps were not structured correctly?
Before you fall into self-censorship and do not propose the plans to other clients, it is better to resume all the steps and do an audit.
At the end of the day, what does the pet parent gain?
The serenity of no longer having thoughts about what and when needs to be done for the pet’s well-being, the knowledge that you are an active participant in its health, the peace of mind that you are in the hands of the right professional, finally always the same.
What about you as a veterinarian?
A greater positive impact on your patients’ health, a powerful tool for retaining your customers, the ability to see them more in a healthy condition, rather than when already ill or in an emergency.
Everybody wins !
- The universal human-animal bond, Zoetis HABRI
- Altroconsumo: More and more animals in Italians’ homes, survey
- Altroconsumo on veterinarians in our country