This 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 and while 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 programs, often called membership programs in other industries have blossomed, the veterinary industry has been slower to adopt.
Larger corporate veterinary organizations are jumping on wellness and preventive care. Today over 3 million pets are on wellness plans compared to just over a million on insurance plans – we explored the financial rewards to the practice in our last blog article posted on 10/13/15. 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 there are numerous roadblocks we encounter.
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 needs to be had and agreement by all 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 them 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 and while they are not to hard to overcome many practices let them get in the way. We will explore a few more roadblocks in our next post.