Practice Management News and Views from around the World – March 2018

Marbles, Magnets and Music

First house call veterinarian franchise in the USA

From an article published in the Veterinary Practice News website

The company provides veterinarians with new business opportunities

A business team and a house call veterinarian have partnered to launch Mobile Veterinary Services (MVS) Pet Care, the nation’s first professional franchise network of house call veterinarians. MVS Pet Care offers general wellness care, vaccinations, and illness and injury care, as well as hospice care and in-home euthanasia.

In addition to solving the longstanding problem for some owners of rustling up reluctant pets for the journey to the veterinary clinic, MVS Pet Care also provides veterinarians with new business opportunities.
“Previously, upon earning their degrees, veterinarians’ options were limited to either working in a vet’s office or animal hospital, or starting their own brick-and-mortar practice, which is tough,” said Todd Giatrelis, co-founder and CEO. “They’re typically overworked and underpaid. With MVS Pet Care, they can get into business with significantly lower entry costs than a brick-and-mortar practice. They’ll receive training and support, scheduling software and access to unmatched pricing for equipment and supplies through partnerships we’ve cemented with national pharmaceutical, diagnostic labs and supply companies.”

The mobile pet care franchise was developed by Giatrelis, Sarah Towne (president), and Ashley Shimabukuro (COO), whose previous franchises include Flip Flop Shops and Sugar Plum Parties, a themed children’s party concept.

Partnering and consulting with MVS Pet Care is Jeremy Gransky, DVM, who has worked in animal hospitals since 1985 and founded At Home Veterinary in 2005, a private veterinary house call service.

There are many benefits to owning your own house call practice, as opposed to working in an animal hospital,” Gransky said. “You can really work up cases and dive into the diagnostics to figure out what’s going on even at home. Plus, there’s a lot of flexibility. You set your own hours and organize your life the way you want to. Conducting house calls allows you to put your own personal stamp on the practice.”

Most state laws require MVS Pet Care franchisees to be licensed veterinarians. There are 15 states that don’t require veterinary licenses to own the franchise; however, those franchisees would obviously need to hire a licensed, registered veterinarian to conduct the in-home veterinary care.

“We offer a comprehensive business model for veterinarians wanting to start their own lucrative house-call practice or looking to expand an existing clinical practice with a mobile business,” Towne said. “This is an incredible opportunity to get in the ground floor of the booming pet industry, filling demand for a convenient service that’s been long overdue for pets and pet parents alike.”

The company officially launched the franchise opportunity at VMX: Veterinary Meeting & Expo in Orlando in January

You can click here to visit the MVS Mobile PetCare website

You can
click here to visit the Veterinary Practice News website

Is this the First Vet Practice in the World to accept CryptoCurrency?

With acknowledgement to Rod Graham, owner of the VillageVet practice in Toorak, Australia

You can click here to visit the VillageVet website

Why one expert thinks your average transaction needs to go down

From an article by Brendan Howard published in the dvm360.com website

The metric you should be measuring is client spend per year, says veterinary analyst John Volk—and it's likely to be higher if you ease the sticker shock.

Stop worrying pets won't come in more than once a year, and instead find ways to get them in the door more often. Owners could spend less each time but more over the year and lifetime of the pet, improving patient health

Every awesome practice owner or manager has a favorite business metric that he or she loves—loves—to watch daily, to tweak regularly and to passionately proselytize about with any colleague who’ll listen.

And one of the perennial favorites has always been average client transaction (ACT). How much money clients spend each time they visit can show how well doctors and team members explain the need for preventive care or higher-quality diagnostics and services. If you use the number to compare doctor to doctor (especially together with average doctor transaction), you can identify high performers and see how their medical communication or protocol choices are improving the bottom line and patient health. Constructively share best practices with all doctors and, boom, better results.

However, veterinary analyst John Volk with Brakke Consulting told an audience at the most recent VMX in Orlando, in no uncertain terms, that he thinks it’s a lousy one for practice managers to focus on.

“I hate average transaction,” Volk told the crowd. “If you focus on average transaction, you’re trying to get as much money out of that client as you can.”

In a way, living by the ACT is living in fear as doctors and managers. You’re scared that clients won’t come in once every year or two, and you need to get everything done right then or the pet will suffer. The more important metric, Volk says, is average spend per pet per year. It’s not what happens that day, but what care happens over a year. With wellness plans—where practices charge monthly for an annual bundle of preventive-care products and services and often offer one, a few or unlimited office visits—ACT drops, Volk says. But client spend per year increases significantly.

It’s true: Too-frequent visits by clients can be a waste of time, money or both, but there’s a good balance when clients don’t feel sticker shock every time they visit. Push too hard on ACT, and you’re likely to see a lot of sticker shock.

You can click here to visit the dvm360.com website

Telemedicine is the future

From an article by Don Jergler published on the Veterinary Practice News website

Mark Olcott, CEO and co-founder of VitusVet, thinks telemedicine will be a crucial part of the veterinary industry and that practitioners should accept that as fact whether they like it or not.

VitusVet is an app-based company that serves about 500 veterinary practices across nearly 40 states. Veterinarians pay the firm 99 cents every time a pet owner uses the app for a refill, question or appointment request. The company currently houses records on four million pets. Olcott said he sees that number hitting 10 million within the next year. It’s only a matter of time until veterinarians see the value that telemedicine can bring to their practices, he added.

What about practitioners who may feel that telemedicine is just a fast and cheap way of replacing veterinary services?

“It’s kind of irrelevant what they think,” he said. “It’s kind of like what they think about Facebook. It doesn’t matter. It’s coming. It’s going to be a disruption. My message to colleagues is we should embrace this.” Instead of ignoring telemedicine, Olcott said veterinarians should use it to find ways to “anchor clients” to their own practice by making them feel much more in touch with their veterinarian practitioner.

“This is just another communication channel if you will—another way to connect with your clients,” Olcott said.

Before he was an app developer, Olcott himself was an emergency veterinarian. “Our phones rang off the hook every night between 8 p.m. and midnight,” Olcott said. Most callers were interested in knowing whether their pet’s symptoms were cause for immediate concern or if they could wait until the next day or a future visit to get help for their pet, he said.

“Right now, it’s really difficult for them to get answers,” he said. “Dr. Google is there. The answers are instant. They may not be accurate, but it’s something.”

He doesn’t see telemedicine becoming commonplace in veterinary clinics overnight, but he does see it happening quicker than most may believe. “It’s not going to sweep over the profession in 12 months,” Olcott said. “But I think it will be here sooner rather than later. Certainly, it will be increasingly relevant over the next three to five years. I think if there’s anything we’ve learned from technology, it’s that consumers are much more powerful these days.”

He recommends that practice owners and their staff prepare for the next steps now by discussing what telemedicine means for the clinic.

“Ask yourselves ‘What’s our position on telemedicine? How do we define it? What are we going to tell our clients when they ask about it?’” he said.

You can click here to visit the Veterinary Practice News website

Using Empathy to Defuse Distress

From an article by Carolyn Shadle and John Meyer published in the Veterinarians Money Digest website

Think back to when you had to deal with a tragedy of some kind. Something minor but distressing, like losing your wallet, or something major, like when you or your pet experienced an illness or injury. Did you notice how people responded when you shared your distress? Were they empathetic?

It’s the rare person who listens and focuses on your tragedy — minor or major — and encourages you to share, vent, cry or just talk. That’s empathy, and it’s powerful.

Why is it powerful? Because it shows you care. It shows you care more effectively than if you were to say, “Oh, I’m so sorry,” or, “I know how you feel,” or, “I know, that happened to me when…” It’s powerful because it maintains the focus on the other person and not on you.

Why is it such a secret power? Because most people are not aware of what it takes to show empathy. Here are the secrets to showing empathy.

Listen.

That means saying nothing. Don’t respond with your own story. Remain silent. It’s awkward, because you will want to fill the air with words, but resist. Remain silent and notice how the other person provides further description of the tragedy. Couple your silence with good eye contact and body language that shows you are listening. Perhaps you will nod as the person speaks, or maybe you will lean toward the person speaking. That is usually all that is needed to let this person know you care. You will be surprised at how eager they are to share, vent, cry or just talk.

Offer an invitation for the other person to talk. 

Sometimes silence is too difficult. If so, say something like, “Tell me about it,” “Say more” or “I’d like to hear your story.” That invitation will assure the other person that you are truly interested. Continue to avoid telling your own story as tempting as it is. Rather, maintain your focus on the other person.

Listen for both feelings and words.

As this person unfolds their loss, injury or disappointment, make an effort to detect their feelings behind their words. Sometimes people will tell you how they feel, as in, “I’m so angry…” or “I’m really sad that….” But often people are not aware of how they feel or are unwilling to speak the words. You might hear instead, “Fluffy is lethargic,” or, “I couldn’t find a place to park anywhere near your clinic.” Your challenge — and opportunity — is to debrief the comment and determine this person’s feelings.

Respond with the feeling you have detected.

This is often called “active listening” or, more precisely, “reflective listening.” The latter term describes what you are doing when you respond; you are holding up an emotional mirror to reflect the speaker’s feelings, letting the speaker “see” the feelings they have expressed. Your response might sound like this: “You are feeling…” or, “I sense that you are [insert feeling] about this,” or maybe, “Wow. I hear you” (matching your tone with that of the other person).

Now, watch the magic.

Your reflective listening will encourage the individual to provide more details. Your response will help to defuse their anger, fear or distress. Calmed, feeling heard and cared for, they are often able to then resolve the problem (like finding the missing item, defining what steps to take, asking for specific help or coming to terms with their loss).

Not all problems are solved instantly and not all injuries are reversed, but being heard and cared for goes a long way toward maintaining the relationship necessary to bring about a resolution. It’s magic.

You can click here to visit the Veterinarians Money Digest website