Equipping Your Veterinary Practices
By investing in veterinary equipment, your clients can enhance their services, increase revenue and solidify client loyalty.
In the ever-changing animal health market, veterinary clinics have seen a steep decline in what used to be routine services and sales. In many practices, vaccinations and spay/neuter procedures have migrated to low-cost clinics, while sales of food, pharmaceuticals, and flea, tick, and heartworm preventives have been lost to online retailers.
Investing in equipment that will enhance the services they provide can increase clinic revenue and client loyalty as well as attract new patients. Discussing equipment purchases with your customers may seem daunting, but learning the basics about your products, their benefits to the pet, and how they can enhance the clinic’s treatment protocols will help you start those conversations.
In-house hematology and chemistry analyzers are relatively commonplace in many veterinary hospitals and emergency clinics, but I’m still surprised by the number of practices that send their samples – and money – to a reference lab. In most cases, clinics can keep that revenue and improve customer satisfaction and convenience by bringing diagnostics in-house. In this digital age, consumers want immediate information, and pet owners tend to comply better with veterinary recommendations when they have on-the-spot results. A sick pet can be sent home with the proper medication and treatment protocol, rather than delaying treatment while waiting for lab results. Pre-operative blood work can be performed the morning of the procedure and save the client an extra trip to the clinic just for a blood draw to be sent to the lab.
In your conversations with veterinarians about adding in-house lab equipment, ask about the overall cases they see, and those cases where they would’ve liked to have diagnostic information immediately available. Do they recommend blood work as part of an annual wellness exam or regular blood tests for senior pets? Would they recommend more testing if they had the convenience of in-house equipment, and would their clients be more likely to agree to it if they could have results during the appointment?
Suggest your clients keep a tally sheet for a month or two to track how often they’re using a reference lab and how often they would’ve run tests in-house. How much of each reference lab bill that the client pays stays with the clinic compared to how much leaves the hospital? This will help gauge whether making the investment in diagnostic equipment will be profitable. Chances are both the clinic’s level of care, and its bottom line will improve.
Once the practice decides to make the purchase, be ready to discuss equipment options based on the diagnostic needs of their practice. You can also provide a list of the consumables needed to operate the equipment, such as reagents, slides, and cleaning solutions.
Technology changes so rapidly that clinics that currently have diagnostic equipment may be due for an upgrade. As a rule of thumb, in-house analyzers older than six or seven years could be outdated. The following questions can help determine if a system is still current:
- Does it provide reliable, accurate results?
- Do those results compare to the most current technology used by the reference lab?
- Is it still supported and serviceable?
- Is it compatible with the other technology in the practice?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it’s time for an upgrade!
Nearly every practice can benefit from investing in at least one laser therapy device. The flexibility of lasers has led the way to its growth and acceptance in veterinary medicine beyond just being considered an “alternative” therapy. The usage list for laser therapy – or photobiomodulation (PMB) – is lengthy. Everything from post-surgical treatment for routine and major surgeries; dental care; dermatology; soft tissue trauma, ulcerations, and wounds; lick granulomas; infections; muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries; orthopedic issues; and, of course, for chronic conditions such as arthritis. As one vet put it: “If it’s inflamed, in pain, or infected, we use it.”
The options, power levels, and features can make discussing the purchase of laser equipment a bit intimidating. Until recently, most people believed a single laser worked for everything, but different lasers treat different conditions, so practices with only one device may be narrowing the applications where they can use laser for treatment. Most are designed to promote pain control, but not all work at the same level of relief. Newer technologies can promote anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects and accelerate healing. Nerve regeneration using laser therapy is a growing area of interest in human medicine and will likely impact veterinary medicine in the future.
It’s important to understand the specifications of a laser’s power, wavelength, and delivery modes when considering an investment in laser therapy options, and it can get confusing! Basically, the outcome is different when different wavelengths and powers (dosages) are combined, creating different therapeutic applications, much like different strengths and dosages of pharmaceuticals affect a treatment outcome. Using laser therapy as part of a multimodal treatment approach can reduce and even eliminate the use of drugs and their side effects. This is particularly important for chronic pain conditions like osteoarthritis in animals who can’t tolerate pharmaceuticals.
Customer education is key to successfully implementing laser therapy in a practice. You can help your practices source marketing materials to use in-clinic, via email, or direct mail. Suggest they dedicate a page of their website to explaining what laser therapy is, how well it works, and the many ways the clinic uses it – along with video and customer testimonials – and recommend that they feature similar content on their social media sites. Veterinarians who include laser therapy as part of a recommended treatment plan and consider it a key component of patient care, rather than an optional service, will see the benefits in patient recovery and customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Proper equipment in a veterinary clinic can support both new and existing services, open new revenue streams and attract new clients. Practices that lack that equipment often fail to provide the best service and risk losing their customers to clinics that have invested. Helping your clinics add or upgrade equipment will boost their level of patient care and bottom line.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/JulieanneBirch