Veterinarians detail new administrative burden

By Marketing

26 October 2021 5 min read


Survey shows rising strain due to third-party demands

Today’s veterinary practices now receive multiple prescription approval requests when their clients purchase medications through third-party online pharmacies. These requests represent an average of 1.4 hours of daily staff time, a significant burden for veterinary teams already facing difficult environments due to new pets, Covid protocols and serious staffing issues.

In order to provide solutions for better workflows and improved wellbeing, Covetrus Research conducted a survey to better understand the impacts of these third-party pharmacy requests.

Top Takeaways

1) Veterinarians have voiced their concern

Prescription requests present a time, workflow and revenue challenge.

  • 80% of veterinarians are concerned about patient compliance and staff workload

2) There’s no time for new administrative burdens

Prescription requests divert time away from patient care, forcing team members to look up patient histories and access medical records.

  • 83% of veterinarians report these requests add to time spent on administrative tasks
  • 76% of veterinarians say the time spent searching for patient information is a challenge
  • 71% of veterinarians cite lack of writeback into medical records as a challenge

3) Third-party requests add to staff workload

Practices are forced to manage multiple requests on behalf of third parties that do not benefit the clinic financially or in terms of compliance.

  • 6.48 requests per day
  • 1.4 hours of staff time
  • 44% request preventatives

4) Practices are working overtime

Staff deal with incorrect requests, multiple requests, wrong medications, and e-tailers blaming veterinarians for late orders. In response, veterinarians are recommending their practice’s online pharmacy, requiring clients to pick up written scripts or encouraging an in-clinic sale.

  • 22% recommend practice’s online pharmacy
  • 16% require clients to pick up written prescription
  • 6% promote in-clinic sale

Big Picture

Pandemic productivity is down

While veterinary demand is surging due to new pets, data also shows an average 25% 8 drop in practice productivity. The AVMA suggests the following factors:

  • Patient backlogs

Due to the pandemic practices were forced to prioritize urgent care and are still working through routine wellness visits.

  • COVID-19 safety

Curbside care and cleaning protocols take up time previously spent on care, with fewer patients seen per hour.

  • Stress & burnout

Quarantine, illness, mental health issues and lack of childcare are contributing to a sustained staffing crunch.

  • High turnover

Average turnover for veterinarians is 2X physicians 9,10 and veterinary techs have one of the highest turnover rates across all healthcare positions. 9,11

Moving Forward

Best practices can ease the burden

A focus on these areas will help practices adapt, find balance and thrive.

  • Employee engagement

Help your team reach their full potential by utilizing their skills for patient care, investing in wellbeing, and providing training, communication and career opportunities.

  • Friendly technology

Manage workflows and client communications through prescription management and other technology tools to ensure seamless care and smoother practice performance.

  • Wellness plans

Keep medical issues at bay, boost compliance and help budget-minded clients by providing proactive healthcare tools to deliver better outcomes.

  • Home delivery

Give clients the convenience of home delivery, including AutoShip – data shows pet owners want to shop with their veterinarian, but aren’t aware of an online offering.

“We discourage clients from buying from (third-party) online sources…” – Veterinarian / Practice Owner, Maryland


Spend more time with patients, not prescriptions


Covetrus solutions are designed for veterinary wellness and wellbeing.


1: Covetrus North America Market Survey Data.
Survey of 514 veterinarian software decision-makers. April 2021.

2: Covetrus North America Practice Survey Data.
Survey of 427 vet professionals (Veterinarians (n=173), Practice Managers (n=155), Vet Techs (n=94), Non-Veterinarian Practice Owners (n=5)). August 2021.