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Letter to dvm360: Business practices of high-volume, low-cost clinic questioned
Can you really establish a high standard of medicine in seven minutes per patient?
Regarding the article “High-volume clinic slashes prices” (October), I have some issues with what was stated by Angels Vet Express.
Mr. Silverglat insists patient care is the clinic's top priority. I find that hard to believe when the clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and one of the doctors is boasting about logging 82 exam room visits in a day. If she didn't take any breaks, including lunch or bathroom breaks, that comes to 6 minutes 57 seconds per visit, including going into and out of the room.
I think most veterinarians-and pet owners, for that matter-would say that you couldn't get quality care in that amount of time. I'm not sure how you can perform a thorough examination, discuss options for care of the animal (healthy or sick) and answer any questions the owner may have in less than seven minutes. If all I had to do was talk to an owner about their cat having kidney disease, just talking, without an exam or anything else, would take me at least 15 minutes to go over everything and make a plan the owner felt comfortable with.
Mr. Silverglat also insists that veterinarians “haven't been trained for business.” But he hasn't broken even in 13 years! I understand that he is operating as a not-for-profit, but even nonprofits want to at least break even or they can't keep operating. This is why people have questioned what Mr. Silverglat does to make his money. The money to fund an endeavor that keeps losing money has to come from somewhere. Maybe Mr. Silverglat is taking out extra mortgages or he did extremely well in his “retail and cattle buying.” Maybe they do receive enough in donations to overcome whatever shortfall they are having in the business to keep it afloat.
Mr. Silverglat states that it takes the clinic up to a year to hire a new veterinarian and he interviews up to 200 candidates. I believe it, as most veterinarians don't want to work in a clinic where they have less than seven minutes per appointment. Most veterinarians may inquire and even visit but soon decide they are not cut out for this type of practice.
I can vouch for this personally. I applied to Angels Vet Express right out of veterinary school and knew it wasn't for me even though I was offered a job. I have a colleague who had the same experience. I also know of a veterinarian who previously worked at Angels Vet Express-while working for another practice he was let go, in part due to poor medical practice. The point is that Angels Vet Express does not always get the best candidates. I know this can happen at any practice, but when you seem desperate the perfect candidate is often the one who says yes.