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What's next? What does the future look like for the veterinary industry?

Posted in Our Community @ May 29th 2020 - By Dr Alex Avery, Dr Nadine Hamilton, Tracy Kamens, Dr Diederik Gelderman
Whats Next For The Veterinary Industry Group Responses

I asked a number of people within the veterinary industry two questions: 

1. What do you think is next for veterinary practices?  

2. What’s next for you and your business? / What's next for the veterinary industry?

Here is a collection of their responses..

What’s next for the veterinary industry? By Dr Alex Avery

Director of the Our Pets Health website for pet owners

The challenge of dealing with COVID has been felt by every single industry, with veterinary clinics and related companies being hit just as hard as many others.

Veterinarians have an excellent capacity to both think outside the box as well as provide exceptional patient care despite the many limitations they frequently face. Pre-COVID this included limitations in owner finances, equipment, expertise, and even simply time. The added limitations of owner communication challenges (I for one am very pleased now that clients are being allowed back into the building) and even a lack of physical patient due to the pandemic have resulted in veterinarians beginning to embrace some of the more novel technologies available to them.

The topic of telemedicine has been slowly building for a number of years now, with many strongly resisting the urge to explore this as a valid option. The pandemic has shown that there is clearly a place for this in "normal" clinic life, and I expect many will more strongly consider integrating some aspects of telemedicine into their daily practices. I see this primarily being used to improve client convenience and service when it comes to post-op checks, medication checkups, triage, and other more general client communications for example.

Clients have had a taste of this as a realistic part of their pet's care and for sheer convenience, such services would be very hard to beat.

In honesty though, I believe that for most vets the aim will be to go back to life as it was before. Concentrating on providing the best possible care for their patients in a more traditional manner.

For the wider veterinary industry, I think remote meetings may replace some of the face-to-face encounters. Drug reps for example may physically travel to each clinic less frequently. More and more CPD is also likely to be delivered online, although personally I find the endless provision of webinar recordings far less engaging and valuable than being physically present at an event.

While COVID may have been the initial impetus for this, hopefully the world will refocus on the other common threat to us all and continue embracing anything that helps tackle climate change. We've now shown that these difficult changes can be made

No-one knows what the future may bring. Society may look far more different than anticipated in a few years once the active threat of COVID passes, and as a service industry it is for us to react so that we can meet (and exceed) client desires and expectations. It is only by doing this that we can properly reach and provide care for our patients.

About Alex

Alex graduated from Vet School at the University of Bristol in the UK in 2006 and went straight into general mixed practice. After 3 years he moved into exclusive companion animal practice in New Zealand, and remained as head vet for 5 years until another move took him back to the UK and into a very busy first opinion companion animal practice.  After two years in this 9 vet progressive practice, he returned to New Zealand at the end of 2016.

You can read more about Alex and his Our Pets Health website in the Vetanswers blog post: Our Pets Health - helping to educate pet owners online

What’s next for the veterinary industry? By Dr Nadine Hamilton

Director, Love Your Pet Love Your Vet Charity and Positive Psych Solutions

I’m not working in a practice per se, but from what I’ve heard many are looking forward to going back to ‘normal’ shifts with the entire team (rather than split shifts) and some practices are starting to re-introduce some in-clinic consultations but only with 1 person per consult.  

I would like to think that many of the things they’ve adapted for through Covid are potentially positive things they can continue (such as the addition of some telehealth services – where appropriate – to potentially increase revenue) as well as additional hygiene measures. 

Obviously my primary concern is their mental health, and I am hopeful that once the teams start going back to normal they adapt and start re-adjusting to the new normal.

I hope they take their mental health and wellbeing more seriously, and have taken advantage of the many mental health webinars available during the social isolation!

As far as what’s next for Love Your Pet Love Your Vet and Positive Psych Solutions - it’s all systems go!  LYPLYV are working on a new campaign which I’m hoping will be super-exciting and be just as popular and impactful as our initial campaign.  We’ve also got a few new things in the pipeline as well, which we’re going to be releasing over the next few months.  Hopefully this helps us to grow from strength-to-strength.  

At PPS I am looking forward to growing my services and continuing to be the leader in the field of veterinary wellbeing, and expanding my services internationally.

About Nadine

Nadine is the founder of registered charity, Love Your Pet Love Your Vet and she has spent over six years researching veterinarian wellbeing at doctoral level.  Her research investigated why the rate of suicide in this profession is so high, as well as developing an evidence-based psycho-educational intervention program which resulted in reductions in anxiety, stress, and depression in veterinarian participants. 

Dr Hamilton has since published her book "Coping with Stress and Burnout as a Veterinarian" and also commenced new doctoral research (PhD) to extend her research into veterinary wellbeing. She works exclusively with the veterinary profession through Positive Psych Solutions.

Click here to visit the Love Your Pet Love Your Vet and the Positive Psych Solutions Pages in the Vetanswers Business Directory

What’s next for the veterinary industry? By Tracy Kamens

Director OnPoint Practice Coaching

Current situation…

  • Many practices are up on turnover as a year on year calculation over the past quarter
  • Most are working with decreased capacity of some description (whether that be in teams, contactless appointments, or limited numbers of clients in the building)
  • With restrictions easing there are several different approaches to how that will affect staff and client interactions
  • Most practices have stopped asking what others are doing – possibly because every clinic has unique challenges which has seen them systematically working through them and making modifications that suit their individual needs

What’s next?

The Australian veterinary industry may not have been impacted enough, at the moment, to be motivated to make any real long- term changes.

However, once the workload is manageable and full teams are in place, I can see many considering some of the following. 

  • Prepayments for supplies (ie. repeat meds, special orders, etc)
  • eCommerce payment options and continue cashless transactions
  • app/text-based client communications rather than phone calls
  • tele-triage/consults
  • off-site receptionists
  • home delivery of products
  • online pharmacies
  • staff dedicated to responding to online communications with clients
  • digital forms, handouts, admits & discharges
  • continuing offering curb side service for certain client demographics

It has been shown in countries such as the UK and the US. a strong client demand for more client focused service offerings and practices that have pivoted their business model are continuing to thrive. 

While we may not have access to all of the same suppliers and services such as Babelbark (digital platform that brings pet parents, pet businesses + shelters, and veterinary clinics together) and PetsApp (Text chat, appointment booking, video calls, easy payments) although this one is coming. Virtual Recall in the UK has also launched Our Vet Shop (provides clients with an easy & secure way to reorder & pay for products and services).

What’s next for OnPoint Practice Coaching?

The question for us moving forward is – what do our clients want and how can we deliver it?

About Tracy

Tracy Kamens, Director at OnPoint Practice Coaching, is a fully qualified DiSC trainer and has been working in the veterinary industry for over 35 years – as a veterinary technician, practice manager/ owner, industry rep, and business coach.

She has most recently been doing extensive coaching with veterinary practices in the areas of staff engagement, team dynamics, culture and business growth opportunities. With a BSc from Cornell, a diploma of practice management and most recently a diploma in leadership, Tracy as spent her career to date pursuing new skills so that she can share her passion and learnings with others.

Click here to visit the OnPoint Practice Coaching Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory

What’s next for the veterinary industry? By Dr Diederik Gelderman

Director, Turbo Charge Your Practice

What’s next in general?

The world is looking for leadership and our global leaders, country leaders, state leaders, community/local leaders have in the big part let us down.

So someone or perhaps some business who steps up and shows leadership in this time of crisis will be looked up to and followed. 

And they’ll be followed NOW. Followed OUT of this crisis. Followed into the future.

These are the times when history is made and when 'heroes' are born / formed / developed

What’s next for our veterinary practice?

As a veterinary practice we are leading our 'flock / followers' through this situation. We’ve now acheived double new client numbers and business is up over 30%

What’s next for veterinary industry in general?

We (the world) will never go back to the old way of doing business. We’re now in a new world of convenience:

  • Click n collect bays at vet practices, credit card on secure storage
  • Orders sent in through Apps
  • App chats to help clients with their problems
  • Video consultations to 'triage' their pet and to do follow ups after visits / surgeries etc are now the norm and will stay that way
  • On-line booking via IG / FB / website etc

We're also in a new world of 'subscriptions’ for example: Spotify, razors, hair products, Fox sports & Movie Channels - all paid monthly 

Our clients can now get all their preventatives sent to them monthly in mail and pay by monthly subscription

Our clients want it to be easy for them and they want instant gratification.

About Diederik

On graduation Diederik purchased a Veterinary clinic in Maitland, NSW and sold it in July 2009. At the time of purchase, it was a run down one person clinic and at the time of sale there were 5 Veterinarians, 16 support staff functioning out of a purpose built ‘A’ class Hospital with one branch. In 2004 the practice won the Pfizer/AVA Practice of Excellence Award as well as coming 3rd in the Fujitsu Customer Service Awards. 

In July 2009 after selling his practice he focused on his coaching, training, speaking and workshop business – and to be able to move to Exeter (NSW) to be with his partner. However he missed clinical practice, so in May 2018 purchased a veterinary practice with the aim of building it up by providing a highly customer service focused, friendly veterinary practice alternative to the local community. In 12 months he has grown the practice gross fee turnover by 53.1% and trebled it's net take home profit. 

Click here to visit the Turbo Charge Your Practice Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory

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