The Banfield summit 2017: A report

September 23, 2017
Kristi Reimer Fender, News Channel Director

Kristi Reimer is editor of dvm360 magazine and news channel director for Before taking over

When the largest corporate veterinary practice speaks, everyone else listens.

This year's Pet Health Industry Summit hosted by Banfield was once again an interesting convergence of ideas and influencers. The invitees to this annual event are drawn from industry, organized veterinary medicine, the nonprofit arena, academia and veterinary practice-and a few veterinary media observers are thrown in for good measure.

In the six years I've attended, I've discovered that when Banfield says, “These are important topics the veterinary profession needs to address,” they're right-and they're often ahead of the curve. For instance, Banfield was talking about the crisis of well-being among veterinarians and the impact of millennials in the marketplace long before others identified these as important topics.

Of course, it shouldn't be lost on anyone that these issues affect Banfield disproportionately, with its 1,000-plus hospitals, and its leaders get some awfully good input by assembling the top brains in the profession to discuss potential solutions.

Be that as it may, Banfield also shares its own insights fairly freely with the group in a way that seems open-handed, with the good of the profession in mind. Here are a couple of things they talked about this year:

> Veterinarians' well-being. Unfortunately, this issue is not going away. Banfield sees the emotional and mental health challenges that continue to plague the profession as intertwined with the financial struggles that accompany enormous student debt loads. In light of that, Banfield is working to build a stronger culture of health and well-being across its practices, including development of associate programs and resources to help manage student debt, such as counseling, contribution and refinancing programs.

> Patient safety tracking. According to chief medical officer Dan Aja, DVM, as the next step in its quality journey, Banfield has begun tracking “patient safety events”-occurrences that could have or did lead to patient harm-across its hospitals. The initiative is not about assigning blame but identifying ways to improve the system, Dr. Aja says. One result? Banfield no longer uses a certain type of muzzle on brachycephalic breeds because the patient safety tracking system identified it as an area for improvement. While this kind of reporting is not mandatory in veterinary medicine the way it is in human hospitals, Banfield has discovered that DVMs are actually more willing to report safety errors than their human health counterparts.