Wellness Plans: Break Free of The Misconceptions

Today’s wellness plan programs mean healthy pets and healthier practices. It is time to address, and “put to bed,” some misconceptions about wellness plans. It is easy to hang on to these misconceptions as an excuse to avoid change, but the bottom line is that they are just that – misconceptions – and the real facts are much too powerful to ignore if you are truly seeking to grow your practice, improve care and meet the needs of your customer base.


With over five years of success as the leading vendor in wellness program implementation, we have heard it all. And the greatest misconceptions around wellness plans continue to be:


  • My clients don’t really want them
  • We don’t have compliance issues
  • We don’t believe in discounting
  • Our doctors are paid on production and will earn less
  • It is too complicated for us to manage

Pet Owners DO Want Plans
So, let’s look at the reality of well-run wellness programs. According to the Bayer Study in 2011, 47% of pet owners want affordable monthly payments and 35% of pet owners want the peace-of-mind associated with knowing they are doing what needs to be done to keep their pet healthy. Fast forward five years to a survey of 3,000 pet owners that had their pets on wellness programs for at least 12 months. Interestingly enough, when asked what they valued most about their plan, 47% of pet owners stated it was the ability to make affordable monthly payments, while 37% said it was the peace-of-mind of knowing that they are providing their pet with the very best care.


Now, couple that with the broad economic trend of monthly payments for many things in life, and you and your staff should be very comfortable that a significant portion of your clients DO want these plans and would appreciate the ability to make monthly payments. And if you still aren’t convinced – survey them!!


Compliance In and Out of Plans Exceeds 90%
Many practices say they have great compliance, and wellness plans will only cannibalize services that would have already been performed regardless of whether a client purchased a plan. That just isn’t true. Top-notch practices have found that cannibalization actually makes up 10% or less of services performed in wellness plans. And as a result of being on a plan, practices experience over 90% compliance on top recommendations for services outside of the plans. For example, if the preventive care profile in the plans shows high kidney values, 90+% of clients say “yes” to recommended follow up diagnostics and care.


Plans That Offer Discounts Result in a Higher Annual Per-Pet Spend
As we mentioned previously, data shows that wellness plan programs can deliver a 10-15% increase in overall practice revenue. Keep in mind, that is above and beyond other growth initiatives, and takes into consideration potential cannibalization of previously performed services (as mentioned above, a serious misconception). And the majority of practices offering plans (remember we have over 300,000 in our system) discount between 10-20% and even offer other benefits such as complimentary additional exams and discounts outside of the plan). The following diagram explains it best:



Increased Doctor Production Pay
A common misperception is that if veterinarians are paid on production, then wellness plans will result in them making less money. In fact the reverse is true – wellness plans mean healthier paychecks for veterinarians that are paid on production. True, they are getting production on plan items at the discount price, BUT in almost all cases they are providing more services in the plan than they were previously providing to the same pet before they enrolled in a plan. And with 90% compliance on recommendations outside of the plan, more frequent visits and a $1,500 average annual spend…you get the picture.


Ensuring that appointments are scheduled with the same doctor is just the icing on the cake, and can create a continuous annual revenue stream for a doctor that understands the relationship value that plans enable and encourage.


Partner with Someone That Knows How to Manage Your Plans
While we can’t tell you that there is no work involved in setting up a wellness plan program, we can tell you that the right partner makes all the difference. The right partner can significantly reduce the amount of work it takes to manage plans at volume.


If you are going to look at offering wellness plans, make sure the solution you select offers both recurring payments and billing automation, is built upon an AR system with a separate client account balance for wellness, offers a true and comprehensive payment and missed-payment management program built upon more than payment processing.

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