Most veterinarians have significant opportunities to improve the financial performance of their practices.
ORLANDO — veterinary incomes jumped 41 percent on average between 1997 and 2003.
The data were findings from a major veterinary study investigating best management practices, conducted by Brakke Consulting, commissioned by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health. The preliminary results were released at The North American Veterinary Conference in January and more results are slated for release throughout 2005.
"Good medicine requires sound management," says Dr. Bonnie Beaver, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in introducing results from the 2,500-practitioner survey.
Beaver says: "Among all the issues facing the veterinary profession, economics is one of the most critical. I'm proud of the fact that AVMA is a leader in addressing financial viability, whether it is commissioning research like this study or the KPMG study, or helping for the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues."
Seeking opinions from all veterinarians in small animal, equine and food animal medicine, the survey achieved a random sampling, officials report.
The survey identifies eight key drivers to business success.
The collaborative survey takes a comprehensive look at the financial success attributes in all types of veterinary practices, explains Robert DiMarzo, president of U.S. Operations, Pfizer Animal Health.
DiMarzo adds: "This landmark study demonstrates that most veterinarians have significant opportunities to improve the financial performance of their practices by implementing better business practices. Many of the important business practices identified in the study are simple and are very easy to adopt."
Beaver told reporters at NAVC: "If veterinarians are to continue to provide the very best medical care, they must be financially viable. This study helps underscore how practitioners can solidify the economic position of their practices."
The key drivers, says Dr. Malcolm Kram, director of U.S. Drug Safety for Pfizer:
The study found that veterinarians who reviewed important financial information such as revenue, profit and loss, and key performance indicators each month earned higher mean incomes than those who reviewed such data less frequently, Kram reports.
Employee development could include written job descriptions, written and oral performance evaluations and well-defined job expectations. Employee development was the single business practice most associated with financial success, regardless of species orientation in the practice, the study results reveal.
Business orientation includes such behaviors as use of financial concepts to manage the practice, and use of industry trends to better define client services. Leadership includes setting clear direction, motivating others excel and giving clear and constructive feedback.
The study results also show that both business orientation and leadership, which involve organizational direction and employee empowerment, were most critical to companion animal and mixed animal practitioners.
Reviewing financial information such as revenue, profit and loss and other key indicators also translated into higher mean incomes, the survey reports.
Negotiating had the highest relationship to income of all management variables for equine veterinarians, Kram reports. Negotiating was evaluated as a factor in pricing of veterinary services.
A detailed executive summary was published in the Jan. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.