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5 ways to fail at ultrasound in your veterinary hospital
From purchase to training, heres what happens if you dont plan for this new important addition to your medical services.
You had a plan for this year's CE conference. Your goal was to come back with, well, a plan to generate more revenue and become more profitable while improving patient care.
Buy an ultrasound = Generate more revenue. CHECK.
Buy an ultrasound = Become more profitable. CHECK.
Wait, what? You're supposed to be more profitable, but you're now tens of thousands of dollars in the hole? Let's see, if you charge $450 per ultrasound, then it only takes 78 ultrasounds to pay off a $35,000 ultrasound unit. But you need someone to read the ultrasounds too. So, now that's 97 ultrasounds at $90 per read. But does a DVM on your team know ultrasounds really well yet? The unit comes with a few free sessions, but that might not be enough. The additional training sessions are $2,000 per module, not including travel.
Don't feel bad. Lots of veterinary practice owners had the exact same plan. They had the best intentions in the beginning but they made some crucial mistakes. Here's what they are-and how not to make them:
Failure No. 1: You bought on impulse
In the moment, you're motivated by all the right things-practice success, new learning and improved patient care-but you lack a plan to match your good intentions. The plan itself is the most important aspect of any purchase. Before making an expensive clinic purchase, write out your plan. Think it through. Talk it over with someone else.
Failure No. 2: You're not ready to learn
Training for diagnostic ultrasonography can be difficult, and most practices don't have a lot of time to send associates to get the proper training they need to become proficient. I suggest you make sure your training comes to you. Negotiate this when you buy the unit. A trainer who comes in person or via video networking can really help support you to be more successful.
Failure No. 3: You're not ready to recommend ultrasounds
We've already discussed the training hurdle, which is usually surmounted only when someone is excited and dedicated to incorporating ultrasounds into your practice's medical services. (Remember Failure No. 1?) But what about recommending ultrasounds to clients? Many associates (and practice owners) already have trouble recommending basic diagnostics to clients on a consistent basis.
Make sure at least one member of your veterinary staff-a practice owner, an associate or even a really talented technician-is ready to recommend and use the ultrasound unit.
Failure No. 4: You don't use it enough
Get the probes on patients. The goal is to become proficient and profitable in using your own ultrasound. The only way to become great at ultrasounds is to get the probe on patients: surgical cases, sick patients, staff pets, it doesn't matter. Make it a rule to use the machine every day.
Failure No. 5: You don't plan to phase out your current ultrasound provider
Does someone currently visit your practice to perform ultrasounds? Do you refer them to someone else? Make sure part of your plan for success is a slow phasing out of these services. You also want to make sure you are confident with your out-of-clinic resource (a board-certified radiologist?) for second opinions and reading ultrasounds.
Adding ultrasound procedures can be a profitable endeavor for your clinic-if you take the necessary steps to set up for success. Think over your long- and short-term goals, and make a plan before diving in.
Stephen Tracey is the Regional Manager of New Jersey and New York for VetCor.