How veterinary business models impact access to care


Access to veterinary care is a critical issue that can be affected by a practice's business model

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Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: So I want to close about access to care in general, you know, we know that this is an issue that we see, not just here in this country, but around the world as well. So, you know, what are some things that you can...What do you...I guess some solutions, if you will? You know, pet owners are doing everything they can to try to...maybe driving 4 or 5 hours to see a veterinarian. That's one thing, and then level on the cost of veterinary care that we're talking about. So talk to me a little bit about this.

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: So when we were talking about access to care, there's multiple facets to it. There is the physical access to care and there's the financial access to care. Physically, even in some highly densely populated areas, there are no veterinarians and easy access, maybe because public transportation doesn't allow pets, the walk's too far, or whatever the case may be. So we need to try to figure out how to increase accessibility to veterinarians and these veterinary deserts, whether it's downtown LA, or the actual desert that you're driving through, but there's a population of people from that standpoint. So how do we act? How do we deal with that in the future? Some of that may come down to telehealth, when it gets down to it. Some may come down to mobile facilities that move around and hit these different areas and pockets. You can even look at a senior center that allows pets as maybe being a veterinary desert, because they may not have the ability to get from that center with their pet to a veterinary hospital, and making maybe having a veterinarian go to the senior center and do rounds or something like that would be a great way to access it. So the physical access is one that is going to take some time and thinking differently to have an answer to the financial access becomes a bit of a challenge as well. We've seen inflation impact everything, cost of gasoline in Southern California, and the state of California is freaking crazy. But it's impacting the cost of veterinary care as well. What we talked about earlier, is the fact that 46% of pet owners are taken aback for lack of a better way to put it by a $500 veterinary bill. Well, that's 4 tanks of gas in California. And so how do we deal with the financial aspects of things? And can we find different business models within our practice, or tangential to our practice, or synergistic with our practice, that allow us to have victory margins that are sufficient, but can bring down the cost of care, so that pet owners can afford basic care, that maybe st allows him to save some money for critical care and emergencies when they occur? I think we have to start to look at new and different business models that make it more affordable for everybody to afford veterinary care, and not just middle class, upper middle class who are even themselves being taxed by the cost of everything else, and now compound that with increasing cost of veterinary care. So how we do that, I think it's going to take some imagination, but we've seen it done in human health care, where they've made it affordable. And I know there's a whole different discussion on insurance. We don't want to go down that rabbit hole. But I do think we need to start to look at business models that are linked to veterinary hospitals that allow us to provide more affordable care for wellness so that there is some money leftover for those times of sickness, and disease and emergencies and injuries and accidents etc.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Yeah, no, it's a problem, but hopefully, there will be some solutions. I think what you're talking about, just changing the model up a little bit, sounds great. You know, and I know that there's a lot of affordable things that in terms of affordable vaccination clinics affordable spay neuters, and we don't like to say low cost anymore. So maybe trying to incorporate that somehow into the model may be a solution going forward. So, excellent. Well, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much, Dr Peter Weinstein for being here. This is fantastic.

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: Thank you Dr Adam Christman.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: My pleasure. And thank you to our friends at Synchrony, CareCredit and Pets Best for being here as well in supporting this session. This has been fantastic. Thank you so much for tuning in. And please stay safe out there and we hope you learned a lot today. Thanks for being on.

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: Thank you.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Take care.

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