Adopting and Leveraging Technology


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Helping veterinary practices take the first step toward meeting changing consumer expectations

Technology is changing consumer behavior. And with that, the needs, expectations and business models are changing.

That was the message Georgia Wraight, senior vice president, global prescription management and global software services, Covetrus, gave to an audience at the most recent NAVC E-Commerce Summit. Wraight discussed how Covetrus is helping its veterinary practice customers leverage technology to strengthen their client relationships.

But the first step – adopting new technology – can often be the most intimidating for veterinary practices.

Veterinary Advantage spoke with Wraight and Todd Haedrich, head of commercial, global prescription management, and global software services, about those first steps, the benefits of streamlining technology choices, and what’s in store for veterinary practices that are willing to adjust to changing consumer behaviors.

Veterinary Advantage: What are you hearing from veterinary practices as far as their pain points and the changing consumer dynamics?

Georgia Wraight: The landscape of consumer habits, in general, is changing. As consumers, we’re changing our behaviors in terms of how we leverage technology, and that is never more apparent than in how consumers deal with veterinary practices.

Veterinarians went to school to treat patients. They didn’t go to school to learn how to run a business or how to try and figure out how to set up an e-commerce mail-order pharmacy for pain medication, or run a website, or figure out how to set up a software platform to deliver client communications and ensure they have the insights in place to manage refills and drive compliance.

But consumers are more demanding now than ever. They want their interaction with the veterinary practice to be a seamless experience. We’re looking at serving that end of the market.

Todd Haedrich: There is a demand for convenience and immediacy. With the Internet, information is now available all the time online. It comes down to reputation management for the veterinary practice. We all know that a veterinarian is one of the most trusted relationships a pet owner has; therefore we want to bring to the table things that help drive that relevancy – enabling veterinarians to communicate better and enabling them to better serve their clients.

Veterinary Advantage: How do you get the veterinary practice comfortable with adopting new technology? What are some ways that veterinary practices can leverage technology to strengthen relationships with clients?

Haedrich: It’s an evolution. When you walk into any large trade show and see the plethora of choices out there, the number of different technological options is mind-blowing. Building on Georgia’s point before, veterinarians went into the profession to learn how to take care of pets. They didn’t go to school for a degree in technology or business. What we are doing – and this has kind of evolved as we’ve brought all of our organizations together – is helping simplify things for veterinarians. They only have to buy technology once from us. They don’t have to make all of these different choices. As you look at how we enable our solutions, we use our own technology in terms of webinars, and videos that help not only teach veterinarians how to use it but why to use it and where to use it and how to have those conversations with their clients – whether it’s at the check-in, in the exam room or after.
It’s not just buying something, but understanding how to use it well.

Wraight: Veterinarians are consumers as well. They’re also using technology to try and evolve.

They’re looking for a streamlined approach. Having 15 different technology partners for a 2-3 doctor practice is too much, versus having one partner who can bring in one platform to serve as the operating system for their practice. Once we walk them through all the steps and how it can enhance their practice financially and clinically, as well as how it allows them to get back to what they truly want to do, it’s not a difficult sell.

Haedrich: It’s one relationship rather than a bunch of different contracts. When you look to one place for convenience, when you look to one place to get your questions answered, that’s far more enjoyable and easier than a multitude of selections. And we deliver that experience.

Wraight: It cuts down on confusion. When you have different technology solutions all trying to communicate to each other, you can end up in a situation at the veterinary practice where you have a problem but you’re not even sure where the problem is, and you’re calling six different providers to try and track down a solution. Obviously, when you streamline that and have one partner who is responsible for your ecosystem helping you with all your technology needs, you’re invested with that partner to solve issues and get support faster.

Veterinary Advantage: How do you help veterinary practices visualize the benefits they will see as it relates to their customers?

Haedrich: We all know that compliance in the industry remains incredibly low. When we talk to them about their ability to deliver better care, we discuss their ability to ensure that what they’re prescribing is not just a recommendation but actually acted upon, that the veterinarian is able to get a full view of the pet’s health and care. That type of dialogue involves improving visibility in terms of compliance, improving relationships, and managing visits; making sure that they effectively communicate with the pet’s owner. Our goal is to help a practice run a better business, practice better medicine, and deliver better care. All the solutions that we deliver speak to a complete solution.

Wraight: I would say that all of this is about strengthening that veterinary-client patient relationship. There is a lot of data out there showing that patient visit trends are slowing across traditional veterinary clinics. The solutions we bring to market aim to solve that by bringing patients back into the clinic. It’s not just about another dose of heartworm product. Yes, we want highly compliant clients to ensure the welfare of the animals of course, but it’s much more than that, it’s about how these small businesses are improving the relationship with their client.

Haedrich: We help veterinarians grow their profit, while also improving compliance, and as Georgia said, really enhancing that veterinary-client patient relationship.

Veterinary Advantage: How does the Covetrus prescription management business sales team bring value to customers?

Haedrich: You look at the drumbeat of how we manage our accounts, it’s really a relationship, a business consultancy. We’re in a practice every 2-3 weeks, yet we also have a relationship with them on the phone. When you think about the strength of our platform, and when you think about the utilization of that platform – our interests are aligned with a practice. If they’re successful, then we’re successful. As we look at what we do well with our outreach and communication to clients, it’s about ensuring that the veterinarian is able to drive compliance, enabling them to take full advantage of our solutions and helping them walk through the types of conversations they should be having with the pet parents to make sure they’re successful in that pursuit.

We brought everyone together – over 500 U.S. salespeople – and took the time to look at all of our customer interactions. We’re looking at customers holistically. Our now aligned sales team is in the car visiting customers together. Whether they’ve got a technology background or a distribution background, they’re riding together. All that time spent has helped get the team cross-trained to be able to speak to the full body of what we can bring to veterinarians. Internally we’re training, learning, evolving and making sure when we walk out there that we’re speaking as one Covetrus and looking at the full suite of a clinic’s needs and addressing it appropriately.

Wraight: The distribution team at Covetrus brought a huge customer base. They’ve built relationships over many, many years. Some of those key members of the team have been at the company for years. They have a huge job to do and they’re really good at what they do. They’ve been incredibly excited to add the prescription management business to their arsenal of what they can offer and deliver to their customers. It’s what you would think about as an omnichannel experience, we can serve all parts of a veterinary practice’s business. That doesn’t take away from how important their inside pharmacy offering is, or how important the traditional rep’s existing business has been and will continue to be. But, they’ve been excited to add this as a capability.

Haedrich: Really what we’re bringing to bear is an operating system for the veterinary practice. We can speak to all aspects and challenges that a veterinarian may have.