NCVEI tailors latest tools to equine profession

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The equine financial benchmarking tools from the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) are ready to roll.

The equine financial benchmarking tools from the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) are ready to roll.

The new tools are intended for all veterinarians involved in the practice of equine medicine, including the estimated 8,000 members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, according to Howard Rubin, NCVEI president.

Howard Rubin

In an effort to enhance patient care, NCVEI, a collaboration of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Animal Hospital Association and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, offers a series of interactive, online results-driven economic tools for the companion animal and now equine DVMs.

Similar to the companion animal benchmarking tools, the equine-specific program covers a range of areas, including operating, marketing, financial and staffing issues relevant to equine practitioners.

"Given the response we've gotten from companion animal, we expect a similar positive response from equine practitioners," Rubin says.

"That's because rather than talking in generalities, we're allowing equine practitioners to enter information about their own practice and their own experiences," he adds. "It makes the activity very personal rather than general."

Upon inputting the data for the 11 equine-customized benchmarks, practitioners will receive a report card of sorts on how they compare to practitioners nationally on each of the benchmarks.

From that point, Rubin says NCVEI has compiled a "blue ribbon" panel of experts in practice management as well as equine veterinarians to assess the data.

"They will … provide a specific roadmap for those who are using the equine tools to know how those who are performing in the upper quartiles - the 85th percentile -are going about achieving their good results," Rubin says.

If the idea of entering data into a computer still saddles some equine practitioners, Rubin says not to worry. "We've gone to great lengths to orient it toward what the equine practitioner's experiences are. (We don't) use lots of business, financial or economic jargon. We try to use the language that explains what we're doing in a way that is compatible with the experiences of most equine practitioners," he says.

NCVEI also offers back-up support, if practitioners have questions.

The broad categories for the benchmarking tools are denoted in the form of questions. They are:

Specific benchmarks

  • Will my fees keep me afloat? This category allows users to compare their fees with the rest of the profession.

  • Where's my money coming from? Which services are providing me with the most income? Overall categories range from racetrack, ambulatory, non-racetrack, haul-in specialist, haul-in non-specialist, lameness and reproductive services. The list of 25 revenue categories related to this benchmark range from exam fees to immunization to diagnostic to surgical.

  • Productivity: How does my practice revenue compare with others?

  • Am I doing the right things for my clients? Am I providing the right kinds of services? The broad categories for this benchmark include examination, immunization, lab services, dentistry and reproductive services. Under each broad category is a series of subcategories.

  • What's the productivity of my practice team?

  • Does my support staff have enough support?

  • Do my clients like me? Do they really like me? This benchmark evaluates your level of client service, focusing on issues related to how much time you spend with each client. For example, this benchmark asks veterinarians to enter on average how long clients have to wait before they see veterinarians during a busy part of day, as well as a normal part of the day.

  • What are your expenses?

  • What kind of marketing efforts do you employ?

  • Accounts receivable: How many IOUs are too many?

  • Management: How do doctors and other staff perform their duties? Rubin says the goal is to determine how much time your team is spending on medical and surgical duties vs. management duties.

Rubin says if practitioners don't have hard data available for all 11 benchmarks, enter data for whichever categories you can.

"You can skip information and come back later," he says. "It will still provide you with results based on data you provide. People don't have to come to this with their entire financial statements and tax returns."

The equine benchmarking tools came to fruition with a $50,000 grant from the AVMA.

Funding and support

The American Association of Equine Practitioners is contributing to the equine tool launch by providing NCVEI an opportunity to communicate the tools' availability to equine practitioners; the association is also helping with analysis of the data.

By spring, NCVEI plans to submit a proposal to begin to develop tools for food animal practitioners. Once submitted, NCVEI plans to develop ways to generate funding for the project.

Last frontier

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