According to Dr. Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, CVA, veterinarian, founder and president of PantheraT consulting, while wellness plans aren’t new, “with more practices feeling the pushback from clients over the cost of veterinary care, there’s never been a greater need.”
It’s true that wellness plans are beneficial to pet health, convenient for pet owners and profitable for veterinary practices. They help improve patient health, offer pet owners predictability in the cost of pet care, and lead to improved client loyalty and compliance, which is also good for a practice’s bottom line.
With all these benefits, it may seem that wellness plans would be a smart addition for any practice. But while they can add value in several ways for so many, they may not be the right choice for every practice. How do you know if yours would benefit from implementing wellness plans? Here are four questions for you and your team to consider before getting started.
- How are your compliance rates?
Another way to ask this might be, are you practicing the kind of medicine you want to? That’s because wellness plans encourage clients to bring their pets in more frequently. And once a pet owner agrees to a plan that you’ve designed, they’re more likely to comply with your care recommendations. After all, they’ve agreed to the services and they’re paying for it already. Add in regular reminders and wellness plans are a great way to help ensure veterinarians see their patients more often.
So, what are your current compliance rates? If most are already following recommendations and bringing pets in for regular checkups, you may not need wellness plans to help increase compliance. Also, if your client base is less concerned about the cost of care—willing and able to pay in full for each visit—they may not see the benefit of lower monthly payments to help with pet care expenses.
However, if your clients are often late with checkups and sometimes find veterinary care a strain on their budgets, implementing wellness plans can be an advantage for them, their pets and your practice.
- How busy is your practice?
Wellness plans can be a useful marketing tool to differentiate your practice from the competition and attract new clients. Whether a pet owner is switching veterinarians, has just moved to the area or has recently adopted a pet, wellness plans could be just the thing to help your practice stand out. So, if you’re interested in growing your client base, wellness plans can be a service that helps to draw people in.
However, if you’re already operating at capacity and your appointment book is full, increasing your client base may not be your primary goal. Think about your current capacity and the capacity you want to have. If you’ve got gaps in your calendar or are looking to grow your practice further, wellness plans could provide a welcome boost.
- Does your software support wellness plans?
Wellness plans have been around for years (about 30!), and practice management software has come a long way to support the implementation and day-to-day management of wellness plans. Powerful practice management software makes starting and maintaining wellness plans smoother and easier for your staff, and more seamless for clients, too.
If you are a paper-only practice or have older software, the thought of offering wellness plans may seem overwhelming. But up-to-date practice management software takes much of the administrative burden off your hands. When combined with a payment processing system, for example, it can automatically take payments from your clients at the prescribed time in the wellness plan schedule.
Before deciding to move ahead with wellness plans, talk with your practice management system supplier to discuss your software and its capabilities. You may only need to set things up, but you may require an upgrade. Or, if you’re not there yet, it may be time to update your practice with practice management software.
- Is your team on board?
The success of your wellness plans ultimately comes down to team engagement. Your staff are your front line, promoting the plans to clients, then implementing and managing them consistently with every patient. It’s essential that your whole team understands and believes in the value of the plans—for pets, pet owners and the practice—so everyone is clear and confident when discussing plan benefits with clients.
The goal of wellness plans is to provide the best care possible for your patients, affordability to your clients and financial stability for your practice. So, when you’re going through the decision-making process, carefully consider the ways in which you might to engage and support your team to make wellness plans a success at your practice.
Want to know more about wellness plans?
Download our free ebook, Making wellness plans work: A practical guide for veterinary practitioners. Along with expert advice about wellness plans, this new resource will lay out the steps for successful implementation including understanding the benefits, setting goals and financial targets, how to design plans for every life stage and much more.
Or get in touch with our team to talk to one of our experts. We’re here to help.