Key Benefits of Chronic Illness Plans

Obesity, one of the most common chronic conditions to plague pets, is reaching epidemic proportions — up 158% in the last decade. The surge of overweight pets complicates chronic health conditions like diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, and beyond.


To stay healthy, pets with chronic conditions require more than routine preventive care. Yet, only 36% of dog parents surveyed said they’d take their pet to the veterinarian to manage a chronic health condition. The figure dropped to 28% among cat parents.


These disappointing statistics point to an unmet need for options to help educate pet parents on the importance of chronic care. They also need the means to budget for it.


In recent years, some practices have looked to chronic illness plans to solve this problem. Chronic illness plans can be a win for pet patients and practices, addressing the chronic care needs of pets.


Like wellness plans, chronic illness plans provide a stream of recurring revenue in today’s competitive landscape. Online retailers are capturing an increasing share of spending on pet food and supplies — a trend the pandemic has accelerated. An April 2020 survey of 2,000 veterinary hospitals by the American Veterinary Medical Association found nearly 1 in 4 pet parents had purchased pet food and prescription medications from online retailers instead of their veterinary hospital.


Chronic illness plans, which often include medications and/or nutrition, can make up for lost sales of these products.


A recent analysis in Today’s Veterinary Business further suggests that chronic illness plans can be profit centers for practices. A chronic illness plan, for example, for a hyperthyroid patient produced an overall annual profit of roughly 50%.


The chronic illness plan also was 17% more profitable than the same services delivered to a hyperthyroid patient that wasn’t enrolled in a chronic illness plan. Medications were included in the plan, thus preventing erosion of sales to online retailers and recapturing that revenue source for veterinarians.


Ideally, chronic illness plans should be personalized to the unique health needs of each pet. Next week, we’ll discuss the power of customization to promote better health outcomes and increase practice revenue.


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