Wellness Plans, Your Gate Way to Building a Membership Program For A Healthy, Thriving Practice

Imagine that you are at your local dog park and join a conversation where one dog owner is asking another for a veterinary recommendation. Instead of replying with the name of the veterinary practice she brings her dog to, the dog owner being asked says, “I am a member of Best Vet Animal Hospital. I highly recommend them – you should really consider becoming a member too!”This sounds odd to you, so you ask, “What do you mean you are a member?” In response, she explains to both of you that she pays a monthly fee to belong to the practice pet care club and in return she has all of her pet’s preventive care services covered and gets other membership benefits as well, like included additional examinations, and promotional offerings on services not included in her plan. In fact, she tells you, she and her husband just used their “weekend away” benefit and boarded their dog and got one day free as a first-time boarding user of an affiliated kennel. All as part of being a member of the club. Wow, you think, what a great idea – I would love to belong to a program like that for my dog!What is the point of this story? That it is time to consider inviting pet owners to literally ‘join’ your business by creating and offering a membership model. Why? Because a membership model is a business model where individuals pay a recurring fee to access the value an organization or business creates. In return, the practice not only achieves a recurring revenue stream, but the loyalty and additional spending that comes as a result, and they see growth in other areas, besides preventive care. [...]

2018-10-28T20:42:36+00:008:42 pm|

Creating a Wellness Program for Both Short-and Long-Term Success

As pet care professionals, it is important to observe the trends and patterns happening in the world around us. We are consumers living in a world of membership clubs and subscription services. Things are evolving fast; new services, changing demographics and online abilities are changing the way consumers behave and purchase services. These changing behaviors carry over to how pet owners utilize and pay for care, treatment, pet services and other necessities for their pets. These new trends are altering the pet owner/veterinarian relationship and creating new challenges for the veterinary practice. As the pet health expert, the veterinarian should be at the heart of pet care, but to keep this relationship, the industry must reinvent and change how it views and utilizes wellness plans. A more creative use of wellness plans, (think membership club, see next month’s post for more info) helps realign the veterinarian/pet owner relationship, driving much deserved revenue back to the practice. No longer just a bundle of preventive care services, wellness programs have come a long way, and contribute to compliance, the client relationship and growth strategies needed for a healthy practice. Today, practices considering this evolution of wellness, need a holistic approach that incorporates the Practice and Business of Wellness. The Practice of Wellness The Practice of Wellness is about developing a program that allows you to define and sell plans and subsequently, manage the day-to-day operations of running a wellness program. The right partner should allow you to utilize your preventive protocols to create your plans and allow you to have options that can be selected to customize the plan on a per pet basis. Your partner should have plan pricing discussions with you, examining local competitors, big [...]

2018-10-17T15:40:37+00:005:15 pm|

Preventive Care Plans vs. Insurance: What’s the Difference?

When I first became a pet owner I wondered about the difference between wellness plans and insurance. Did I need both? And, if so, why? Recently I was reminded of this question when I saw a Facebook post asking about the difference between wellness plans and insurance. My friends had their pet on a preventive care plan offered by their veterinarian but were wondering if they should stop that and go with pet insurance instead. I responded to the post in attempt to share what I had learned about wellness plans and pet insurance so that my friends could make the best decision for their pet. First, I explained exactly what the purpose of a preventive care plan is (also called a wellness plan). The goal is to prevent health problems in your pet through regular scheduled checkups, and for a pet to proactively receive annual services and screening diagnostics to help ensure a long and healthy life. Most wellness plans are set up with a monthly payment, allowing pet owners to budget for their pet’s preventive care. Some wellness plans also offer optional services, that allow the plan to meet specific needs of each pet or different geographical recommendations. Because a wellness plan is “proactive” it helps ensure that if an issue does arise it is caught early, resulting in a better outcome and often saving the pet owner from more expensive treatments. Pet insurance, on the other hand, is designed to help cover the costs of illness or injury. Insurance is a good way to make sure your pet is covered in case he/she needs immediate or emergency healthcare. In short, the goal of pet insurance is to remove personal finances from [...]

2018-10-17T15:41:08+00:001:52 pm|

Wellness Plan Helps Identify Potential Health Issues Early: A Pet Owner Story

When it came to getting a dog, I was the last person in my family to ‘hop on the bandwagon’. I had never been a dog person, but one day I had a moment of weakness, and my family took advantage of it, so we came home with a brand new puppy named Levi. At first, I was the person who took the least responsibility when it came to him. However, once school started back up again, and the kids were out of the house, I started spending a lot of quality time with our little Levi. I was the one that took him on walks, fed him and cuddled with him all day when the kids were at school. It didn’t take long for him to grow on me. Pretty soon, no matter what he did, even if it was bad, I couldn’t stay mad at Levi for more than a few minutes. Even when he slipped and fell into the pool right after a bath to chase a duck! His playful nature also translated into a little bit of clumsiness, so I worried about him staying healthy and playing safe. My vet recommended signing him up for a preventive care plan, and at first, I was a little bit skeptical, but after reading through the benefits I decided it was a good idea. Levi had basically become another one of my kids and deserved the same medical attention to keep him healthy. ​When Levi was about a year and a half old, the urinalysis that was done as part of his plan’s annual diagnostic screening uncovered urinary crystals. Our veterinarian told us that Levi needed to change his kibble to a prescription [...]

2018-10-17T15:39:46+00:005:45 pm|

Telehealth Services Bring Added Value to Wellness Plans

This blog isn’t about the VCPR, state statutes or any other controversial topic around telehealth. This is simply about using telehealth capabilities to increase the value of your wellness plan program. Because, the fact is that telehealth isn’t coming, it’s here, and the practices that learn to weave the capabilities and relationship opportunities that it provides into the fabric of their core offerings will benefit. And those that take it a step further, and offer telehealth as part of their wellness plan infrastructure, will benefit that much more. The integration of wellness plans and telehealth is just one more way for practices to meet consumer demand and desire for simplified and budgeted care; together, they expand the potential for building and expanding the lifelong relationships practices need and want to have with pet owners. And both offerings, together and apart, demonstrate that a practice is committed to meeting the needs and wants of consumers, and recognizes that these are evolving and changing quickly. As Dr. Shea Cox, Co-founder of the One Health Company, so aptly puts it, “Virtual care is considered ‘normal practice of care’ in human medicine. Consumers have come to expect this for themselves, and they are rapidly beginning to expect this for their pet’s care as well.” There isn’t one way to add telehealth to wellness plans, and it can depend on how your plans are structured. The simplest way is to include a certain number of telehealth visits into a plan as an added value item, and build the cost of these visits into the plan payment. Perhaps you already offer additional exams to be used for non-wellness (a great offering that boosts plan sales and practice revenue) and you [...]

2018-10-17T13:35:56+00:003:23 pm|

Pet Owner Wellness Experience

Like many, our dog is more than a pet, he is a furry member of the family. My dog means the world to me, and I would do anything to make sure he stays healthy, but the potential costs worried me. During a visit my veterinarian told be about wellness plans, and it seemed to make a lot of sense to me. I could proactively ensure my little one gets the preventive care he needs to stay healthy, and it fits in my budget, a little each month instead of a larger amount all at once, for things he needs. Signing up for a wellness plan gave me great peace of mind knowing that my pup will get the care he needs on a consistent basis, and the bonus, my vet has a better chance of finding anything that might be going on and treat it before it becomes a bigger issue. And, my plan includes extra visits. Because of how young I am, any aid in fitting things into my budget helps. With preventative care came the promise of keeping my pup on track, and also keeping my budget in line. So, I did it! I decided to sign up for a preventive care plan with my vet, which covered things like: vaccinations, examinations, and protection for fleas and ticks. My veterinarian told me how important dental health and care is in adult dogs, so I even opted for the dental cleaning package. Paying monthly made me feel more comfortable and I visit my veterinarian more often. Around a year ago, a friend’s dog started acting a little funny, turned out he had worms, and because of how long she waited to take him [...]

2018-10-17T13:43:55+00:006:40 pm|

Wellness Plans and Developing Lifelong Partnerships with Cat Owners

Cats are amazing creatures, and we are fortunate to live in a society that celebrates their poise, beauty, grace and quirky personalities. And while it is truly awesome that many veterinarians are now committed to becoming more feline friendly, the fact remains that most cats still do not receive the same amount of veterinary care as their dog counterparts. While the oft sited reason for this is cats’ independent and stoic nature, as well as their tendency to mask pain and illness, this explanation fails to get to the root of the problem – a tremendous lack of education of cat owners on the importance of ongoing preventive care. So what is one of the best ways to surpass this hurdle and begin to develop lifelong partnerships with cat owners? The most logical and effectual opportunity is to implement a feline educational program centered on wellness plans that include a practice’s optimal preventive care services and diagnostics for each feline life stage. Why wellness plans? Because they are an educational tool in and of themselves, and present in writing a practice’s optimal preventive care recommendations. In most cases clients want to do what is best for their cat, but often they just don’t know what that is. Wellness plans make that indelibly clear. Adding the ability to spread the cost of care over 12 monthly payments makes it that much easier for cat owners to follow your recommendations. It’s common for cat owners to think that unless their cat is due for vaccinations, or showing signs of illness, there is no reason to bring them to the veterinarian. The beauty of wellness plans is that they take the focus off of vaccinations (explain that [...]

2018-03-27T17:20:34+00:005:19 pm|

Wellness Plans. A Real No-Brainer

If you read our blog regularly, you know how much we believe in the value of what we do. We believe in the power of wellness plans, and the positive effects for healthier pets and a practice's bottom line. Also, as the leading wellness plan management software company, we understand the business of wellness and how important it is to successfully integrate it into the culture of a practice. Yes, we are in the business of wellness, but it is the real-life evidence and benefits that keep proving wellness plans are great for pets and the practice. And while more and more practices are offering wellness plans, and the effects continue to be identified in articles and lectures, it is this need for a culture change that continues to be identified over and over again, regardless of whether wellness plans themselves are ever mentioned.Consider an article in Veterinary Practice News written by Dr. Phil Zeltzmann, titled How Do Top Practices Increase Profitability?1 Not once are wellness plans identified specifically as a solution in the article, but all roads lead there without hesitation.First, Dr. Zeltzmann's article refers to a 2014 AAHA study that found that practices considered "Outgrowers" (achieving more than 10% growth annually) focused on advancing the bond between pets and owners, practices and clients, practices and patients and veterinarians and staff. What was the second similarity among "Outgrowers" according to the study? These practices place a tremendous emphasis on the importance of preventive medicine. He writes, "…any hospital can develop the bond with patients and clients, focus on education, and foster a stress-free environment." Yes they can, and offering wellness plans, by their very nature, will help accomplish each of those things (read our [...]

2018-02-26T21:23:32+00:009:06 pm|

Recommendations are a Responsibility, Not a Choice

When a pet owner brings their pet to an animal hospital, regardless of whether that pet is sick or seeking preventive care services, it is the responsibility of the veterinary team to recommend the care they believe is the very best in that situation. The great thing about a wellness plan program is that those recommendations are made easier because the care is clearly defined, the message is repeatable and there should be no differing opinions among doctors or team members. However, just because you make the recommendation doesn’t mean a pet owner will immediately accept and enroll their pet in your program. There may be a variety of reasons for this, but the important point is that not saying “yes” at that very moment does not mean that the owner isn’t interested at all. It often means that they need to think about it, which shouldn’t lead to discouragement, or a lack of future recommendations, on the part of the veterinary team. Consider the following true story submitted by Laura, the practice manager at Animal Clinic Del Rancho in Scottsdale, AZ: About 2 months ago, a client came in with both of their pets for a sick visit. At that time our technician and doctor told her about our wellness plans. The doctor also informed her that both pets would need a dental in the next year. However, the client chose not to enroll her pets at that time. Today, the client walked into our clinic and enrolled both pets on wellness plans that include dentistry, and scheduled an appointment to bring them in next week! It was a great reminder to our team that we should mention our wellness plans to all [...]

2018-01-09T17:22:02+00:005:18 pm|

New Year = New Possibilities

The end of a year is always a good time to look back on the past 12 months to see what has been accomplished, what worked and what didn’t and what still needs to be done going forward. At VCP 2017 was a busy year with lots of new practices launching wellness plan programs, software improvements and interesting iterations like telemedicine, membership clubs and much more. 2018 is already lining up to be just as exciting, as more practices come on board and existing practices with mature programs learn to navigate the renewal process and add new plans and features to grow their client offerings. In 2017 we have actively blogged on a variety of wellness plan related topics – from optimal plan design and marketing strategy to understanding ‘churn’ and everything in between. But when you strip away all of the statistics, recommendations and details, what is it we have been talking about in these articles and why is it important? At the heart of it all, we are talking about changing the eco-system of a veterinary practice simply by bundling optimal preventive care services and offering the ability for clients to pay for these services over time. And yet as simple as that sounds, we can all agree that the transition to this new eco-system has been slow to evolve and fraught with the anxiety that accompanies major change initiatives. But we also know wellness plans work. They improve the health of your business and your patients. Practices that do it, and do it well, will tell you it is the best thing they have ever done. Most likely as you read this, you are in one of three different states pertaining [...]

2018-01-09T17:20:39+00:003:21 pm|