This post is part one of a two-part posting exploring the most common roadblocks we hear from practices on why they took so long, or why they have not yet started, offering a wellness program.
It used to be said, nothing comes without hard work. Although technology has made implementing and managing wellness programs easier, there is still work to be done to be successful. Wellness plans have been discussed for years in the veterinary industry, and while these types of membership programs have blossomed in other industries, the veterinary industry has been slower to adopt wellness programs.
Larger corporate veterinary organizations are jumping on wellness and preventive care. Today, more than 3 million pets are on wellness plans, compared to just over a million on insurance plans. But still, there are a multitude of reasons many practices are slow to adopt wellness plans, many of which are based on a prior experience, fear of change, and misinformation.
As is often the case, we can be our own barriers to success. As consultants and providers of wellness and preventive care solutions, VCP has witnessed numerous roadblocks.
The biggest roadblock that we see most frequently is the upfront time commitment needed to get plans off the ground. No matter how many tools wellness solutions provide to make things go smoothly, there is no magic formula.
Every practice is going to have to take the time to design their plans, create a coding system, learn to use the software and get everyone on board and trained. In many practices, there is one person responsible for all of this, but they are also seeing patients 40+ hours a week or doing all of the other things it takes to run a practice. Implementing wellness plans gets put on the back burner. Time is needed to create your wellness Program.
A Standardized Wellness Protocol
Many practices have more than one doctor; often there has been no discussion or agreement on standardized wellness protocols practice-wide. Each doctor is doing what they feel is best, and when it comes time to offer a wellness program, an agreement on standard practices is necessary to ensure a successful wellness program. While sample plans are available, each practice still needs to decide upon their own wellness standard.
Often one of the first things we hear is “I don’t want to discount.” We explain to doctors that they don’t necessarily have to discount the plan services as long as they are offering other incentives that are equally valuable, such as additional exams.
In fact, we counsel against excessive discounting, but again every situation is different depending on demographics, competition and what you want your plans to accomplish. Smart practices are thinking differently to compete with vaccine clinics and other competitors. Mix in secondary plans and optional services that take advantage of other offerings such as grooming and boarding. Remember a small discount might be in your best interest as research finds that clients on wellness visit more often and, in so doing, spend 1.5 times the cost of their plan on other services and products while at the practice. Ultimately even with a discount, you are generating more revenue and providing better care.
These are a few of the roadblocks we hear. Although they are not too hard to overcome, many practices let them get in the way.