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Partners in Wellness (Sponsored by PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance)

Article

Learn how to create wellness plans, how they affect your revenue, seven steps to introducing clients to them, and answers to your questions.

Create your own wellness plan with Partners in Wellness

Follow these steps to create and launch your own customized preventive care plan to match your standards of care and practice philosophy.

By Dr. David Goodnight

There's no one-size-fits-all wellness plan that works for all practices. That's why Partners in Wellness offers you the control to create the program that matches your practice philosophy—without the administrative hassles of launching the program by yourself. In a few easy steps, this web-based portal helps you design the plan that interfaces with your practice management software to lock in the care your patients need.

Dr. David Goodnight

Remember, Partners in Wellness is your program to offer to your clients. Your clinic gets the credit—and the revenue—and Partners in Wellness handles the administrative work, from billing, payments, and deposits to comprehensive tools, promotional materials, and information management. This leaves you free to focus on the work you love—caring for patients and providing top-notch preventive care.

Stress-free plans

When you launch your wellness program through Partners in Wellness, you, as the practitioner, completely control and customize your plan and pricing. Launching your own plan is easy. The online program setup is simple and paperless, and you'll find three suggested starter plans to help you get started. You choose the plan type—basic, complete, or special health—the species, and the life stage. Then you select the annual wellness services you want to include in the plan, the discounts, if any, you want to include, and the monthly fee you want to charge. Intuitive software will quickly guide you through these key steps.

This wellness program is designed to encourage regular visits, allowing clients to keep their pets healthy in a financially predictable way. Please remember that this is a wellness program, not insurance.

Systems that work for you

The Partners in Wellness program values the practitioner's and client's privacy. Partners in Wellness automatically bills your clients and deposits the funds directly into your account once a month. You avoid the security risk of storing billing information. It also allows clients to pay healthcare costs over time, eliminates sticker shock, and relieves your team of the administrative hassles of managing a wellness plan.

The secure, multi-step registration uses the same kind of process you use to set up online banking and other web-based financial services. Your payment comes the fifth day of the month by electronic funds transfer (EFT) or paper check. Remember, you decide which preventive care services to include and set the fees. Partners in Wellness charges a 9% software license and administration fee. There is no additional fee to the practice. Every new client pays a one-time $50 enrollment fee, and Partners in Wellness will even send the practice half of that amount—$25.

Desktop interface software makes it easy to track and manage services delivered in the clinic. Partners in Wellness currently interfaces with AVImark, Cornerstone, Impromed, V-Tech, VIA, DVM Manager, Intravet, and Vet Tech Advantage information management systems. To install the software, simply choose the self-installation option, or the Partners in Wellness technical support team will install the software remotely.

If you build it, they will come

Free marketing materials, including brochures, counter mats, posters, and door hangers, help create awareness and educate clients about your plans. Your program is branded to your practice and contains no outside branding.

The online enrollment process is simple, and you and your clients enjoy secure Internet portal access. To sign up, clients follow a one-time registration process using the Partners in Wellness portal. Clients can enroll by clicking on one of the supplied web ads from your hospital website or during a practice visit on a computer that you've designated for client registration purposes. Once enrolled, clients receive email confirmation and a membership card.

Ready to get started? Visit www.partners-n-wellness.com/clinic. And remember, when you see pets more times every year, it turns into better care—better disease detection, better preventive medicine, and more medicine for the pets that really need it. With the help of Partners in Wellness, you can offer pet owners the chance to provide the best preventive care for their pets throughout the year in a financially predictable way.

David B. Goodnight, DVM, MBA, is the president and chief operating officer of PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance Services Inc. and Nestlé Purina Claims Services Inc., both companies wholly owned by Nestlé Purina PetCare Company. PurinaCare manages the entire Partners in Wellness program.

Read on!

  • Page 2: Do wellness plans make financial sense?
  • Page 3: 7 steps to introduce wellness plans to your clients
  • Page 4: Answers to your questions

Do wellness plans make financial sense?

By Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM

Wellness plans sound like a good idea, but do they make financial sense? This million-dollar question has kept some practices from exploring this form of pricing. We know that wellness plans with a monthly pay option are appealing to pet owners. Almost 50% of both dog and cat owners surveyed in the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study1 said that wellness plans would likely increase their visits to a veterinary practice. Yet midway through 2011, when veterinarians were surveyed for the Bayer study, less than 5% of practices offered these plans.2

There's no guarantee of financial success for any new service you offer. You can reduce this risk, however, with judicious analysis. Consider the risks and rewards before you implement your wellness plan.

Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM

Wellness plans at work

Start by researching wellness plans and their success rates at other practices. Read the articles published in business journals, follow discussion boards, and talk to colleagues both locally and in other communities. Generally the practices I've read about or talked to report positive results. For example, one practice said about 8% of their clients signed up with no marketing beyond a poster in the exam room. Another indicated more than 10% of their clients signed up, and their renewal rate has been 80%. A third practice reported that 40% to 45% of their clients have signed up for plans that range from $380 to $620 a year.

The consensus is that clients visit more often and take better care of their pets when they use these plans. Once you're convinced that there is a market for wellness plans, it's time to examine potential revenue and profit.

Spotlight on revenue

Let's look at revenue and profit projections for an average practice. Note that the pet numbers, the fees charged for services, and other demographic assumptions are based on published veterinary profession studies. Data from the American Pet Products Association (APPA)3 indicate the average dog owner spends about $248 annually for routine veterinary care and the average cat owner spends about $219.

This is generally less than what most veterinarians advise to provide the best level of preventive care for pets. Commonly recommended annual preventive care services covered in a basic plan might include physical examinations, vaccinations, fecal examinations and deworming, heartworm or FELV and FIV tests, nail trims, and anal gland expressions. The estimated cost of all the services in a basic plan will range from $423 for cats to $484 for dogs. Most practices discount the services included in the plan. Some practices include large discounts—up to 50%—but more often the discounts range from 10% to 20%. The client's monthly cost for these services plus a 6.5% administration fee would run about $31 for a cat and $35 for a dog with a 20% discount, or $38 for a cat and $44 for a dog with no discount. (The total administration fee charged by Purina for the Partners in Wellness plans is 9%; approximately 2.5% of this represents credit card merchant fees, which are included in the analysis below, and approximately 6.5% represents the cost of providing the plans to clients and is built into the plan costs.)

To understand the revenue potential, consider this example. In an average two–doctor practice, with 2,400 active clients, 3,600 pets seen at least once annually, and a mix of 60% dogs and 40% cats, the practice's additional revenue would be about $47,000 if 10% of the current clients signed up for a plan that offered a 20% discount. In a plan with no discount, revenue would be closer to $80,000. If 20% of clients signed up for the plan, those figures would be $95,000 and $161,000, respectively.

A peek at profit

Of course, revenue is just one aspect of this analysis. Financially speaking, generating additional profits is what really counts. In most practices the profit margin will be more than 50%, assuming the practice's expenses are similar to those seen in published studies showing expense ratios for veterinary practices. The biggest expenses the practice will incur in generating this additional revenue are drugs and medical supplies, laboratory costs, and associate compensation (if associates are paid on production.) Credit card merchant fees (estimated at 2.5% of revenue) are also deducted in calculating the profit margin. If associates are paid by salary, the profit margin will exceed 70%. It's rare for a practice to need to increase other costs to generate this additional revenue, so the profit margins are very strong. Obviously you can customize this type of analysis to your practice to assess the impact of your plans.

Wellness plans contribute to the bottom line in other ways as well. With Partners in Wellness, practices receive a portion of the enrollment fee for administrative setup costs, which ultimately increases plan profitability. It's also possible that practices will gain clients because they offer wellness plans. According to practices that have implemented these plans, clients often spend more outside of the plan. The bottom line: Wellness plans have the potential to boost practice revenue and improve the level of care pet owners offer the animals in their care. Consider which preventive care services you value and how a wellness program might benefit your practice—and your patients.

References

1. Volk JO, Felsted KF, Thomas JG, et al. Executive summary of the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study. J Amer Vet Med Assoc 2011;238(10):1275-1282.

2. Volk JO, Felsted KF, Thomas JG, et al. Executive summary of phase 2 of the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study. J Amer Vet Med Assoc 2011;239(10):1311-1316.

3. APPA's 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey. www.americanpetproducts.org. Accessed on May 14, 2012.

Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, is president of Felsted Veterinary Consulting Inc. in Dallas, Texas. She serves on the professional advisory board of and consults with Partners in Wellness.

Also read:

  • Page 1: Create your own wellness plan with Partners in Wellness
  • Page 3: 7 steps to introduce wellness plans to your clients
  • Page 4: Answers to your questions

7 steps to introduce wellness plans to your clients

By Wendy S. Myers

With high unemployment in Dalton, Ga., the teams at Dalton Animal Care and Dalton Animal Care North decided to launch wellness plans. Rather than waiting for the economy to heal, veterinarians are introducing wellness plans to bring back clients. More than 45% of pet owners have said they would visit the veterinarian more often if practices offered wellness plans with monthly billing.1

Wendy S. Myers

A PurinaCare program, Partners in Wellness (www.partners-n-wellness.com/clinic) lets veterinarians create tailored wellness plans that are branded to individual hospitals and include monthly credit-card payments, marketing materials, reports, and software integration.

The business strategy is getting results for the Dalton hospitals. In less than 90 days, more than 80 clients have enrolled. Dentistry was up 15% in March 2012, with half of patients on wellness plans that include dentistry. Plans cost $28 a month for adult dogs and cats or $44 a month with a Grade 1 dental cleaning.

"Instead of discounting, we gave clients opportunities to see us more," says Kim Rue, office manager. Plans include six exams per year, along with wellness blood work and urinalysis. "You can tell that clients want to do blood work but they can't afford it," Rue says. "The level of care that we deliver has increased under wellness plans."

Getting the word out about wellness plans drives enrollments. Here's how to encourage preventive care:

1. Introduce plans when clients call to make appointments. A receptionist might say, "Thank you for calling to schedule Duke's appointment. Our hospital now offers wellness plans that let you make monthly payments. For your adult dog, a plan includes six exams per year, vaccines, heartworm and tick testing, intestinal parasite screening, deworming, wellness blood work, four nail trims, four anal gland expressions, and two nutritional counseling and weight assessments. You can get information and enroll on our website at www.yourwebsite.com. You could enroll before your appointment, or we can answer your questions during Duke's exam."

2. Mention plans during confirmation calls. For example, "This is Wendy calling from Your Veterinary Hospital to confirm your dog's appointment with Dr. Your Name tomorrow at 10 a.m. Please remember to bring a teaspoon-sized stool sample, as well as any medications and supplements you're currently giving your dog. Our hospital now offers wellness plans that let you make monthly payments. You can get information and enroll on our website, or we can explain the plans during Duke's exam."

3. Explain plans during exams. Partners in Wellness lets clinics print customized plan handouts. At South Willow Animal Hospital, a Pet Partners USA affiliate in Manchester, N.H., 27 clients enrolled the first month. Fourteen were existing clients, 10 were new, and two clients owned pets that hadn't received care in three years. In addition to handouts, brochures, buttons, and more, the staff created laminated flyers that compare plans. "Employees bring laptops into exam rooms and sign up clients," says Dr. Kellyann Haydon, medical director. "The enrollment process takes about three minutes, and the plan shows up in our practice management software by the time the client is ready to check out."

4. Post materials in high-traffic areas. The exam room is your classroom, so display posters, brochures, and door hangers about wellness plans.

5. Send an email blast. Include a link to your practice's website where clients can pick a plan that meets their needs and sign up 24/7.

6. Capture drive-by traffic. Dalton Animal Care has a message on its marquee sign so passersby know about its healthy pet wellness plans.

7. Engage social media. Today, 43% of veterinary hospitals are on Facebook, which has 901 million users, with more than half logging on daily.2,3 Because Facebook's average user has 234 friends, Dalton Animal Care had a drawing on its Facebook page.4 The hospital asked fans to share its wellness plan post, and the winner's pet received a free bath.

Besides generating return visits, wellness plans often help doctors elevate the level of care. "We've been changing our wellness model to focus more on diagnostics," says Dr. Randal Bennett of Quitman Animal Clinic in Quitman, Texas, who offers canine, feline, and equine wellness plans. "Our plans include four exams for any reason. This is about more turns through the door so we can provide better medicine for patients."

References

1. Burns K. Reversing the Decline in Patient Visits. J Am Vet Med Assoc, Sept 15, 2011. Available at: http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/sep11/110915o.asp. Accessed Nov 28, 2011.

2. 2011 Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study conducted by the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, Brakke Consulting and Bayer Animal Health. Available at: http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/full/10.2460/javma.238.10.1275. Accessed April 1, 2012.

3. Facebook statistics. Available at: http://newsroom.fb.com/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=22. Accessed May 19, 2012.

4. Facebook statistics. Available at: http://www.quora.com/How-many-friends-does-a-Facebook-user-have-on-average-and-what-is-the-distribution-of-friends-numbers. Accessed May 19, 2012.

Wendy S. Myers owns Communication Solutions for Veterinarians in Denver and is a partner in Animal Hospital Specialty Center in Highlands Ranch, Colo. She serves on the professional advisory board of and consults with Partners in Wellness.

Also read:

  • Page 1: Create your own wellness plan with Partners in Wellness
  • Page 2: Do wellness plans make financial sense?
  • Page 4: Answers to your questions

Partners in Wellness ... Lots of information, but I still have questions

As with any new product or program, you will naturally have questions about how the Partners in Wellness program works in general and how it would work at your clinic. If you need help with any aspect of the program, you can always contact Partners in Wellness:

• Call (877) 231-2901, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT.

• Email contactus@partners-n-wellness.com.

• Consult the Partners in Wellness website (www.partners-n-wellness.com/clinic). In the "Helpful Links" box on the right side of the page, click on "Frequently Asked Questions from Veterinarians."

Here are some of the most common questions veterinarians ask.

Q. Is this program branded Purina?

A. The Purina logo only appears on marketing materials to veterinarians. This program is designed to be your hospital's program. The Purina logo does not appear on any materials we provide to market the program to your clients.

Q. Why do I need to create a wellness plan before enrolling in the program?

A. The system was designed to be completed start to finish, thereby creating all the portal contents. To get you started, Partners in Wellness has developed three suggested starter plans: Basic, Comprehensive, and Special. The suggested service offerings were created using current wellness recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association. However, you have full control over your plan; you can accept or change any or all of the services in the plans. You can also design your own plans by going to www.partners-n-wellness.com/clinic and clicking on "Plan Worksheet."

Q. How can I market the program to my clients, and how will Partners in Wellness market the program?

A. The web portal offers marketing tools to build client awareness. You can download HTML email and letter templates, and you can order free brochures, posters, window clings, staff buttons, and invoice stickers. You can also download customized web banners and print client handouts of specific plans.

Q. Should I enroll clients when they are at the clinic, or should clients complete the enrollment themselves?

A. Clients MUST enroll themselves because they are digitally agreeing to contracts. You and your clinic cannot enroll on their behalf. The best option is to tell clients about the wellness program when they make an appointment so they can enroll at home before arriving at your clinic. However, if they are already at the clinic, you can provide a dedicated computer and they can enroll on the spot.

Q. What access does Partners in Wellness have to my client data, and what does Partners in Wellness do with client data?

A. Client data is used only to manage the billing and administration of the plan a client has purchased. Partners in Wellness keeps only the information that the client supplied during enrollment and an accounting of the services the client has used. Partners in Wellness does not extract information from your clinic's software.

Q. What if a client uses all the services but then stops paying for the plan?

A. If we cannot collect fees from the client, we cannot pay your clinic. To minimize this risk, the client and clinic contracts state that the clinic has the right to spread the services out over the term of the agreement. Partners in Wellness will alert you when a client has stopped paying, so services offered under the plan can be suspended and the client can pay for services as they are incurred. If there is nonpayment for a certain period, Partners in Wellness will consult with you and decide whether to turn the contract over to collection.

Don't miss these three free on-demand webcasts. Register for each at dvm360.com/wellnesswebinars:

  • Partners in Wellness: A new tool to offer customized wellness plans to your veterinary clients by David Goodnight, DVM, MBA
  • Introducing wellness plans to your clients by Wendy S. Myers (1 CE credit)
  • Wellness programs pay off for your practice by Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM (1 CE credit)

Also read:

  • Page 1: Create your own wellness plan with Partners in Wellness
  • Page 2: Do wellness plans make financial sense?
  • Page 3: 7 steps to introduce wellness plans to your clients
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