Veterinary clients don't come back for rechecks?


Medical progress exams ensure pets get better care and increase profits.

Dr. Jensen wants to improve his number of exams. He focuses on medical progress exams and getting clients back in the door.

The problem

Dr. Jensen knows there are many things that affect revenue, but he's had a nagging feeling that one reason is clients continue to bring their pets in when they are sick or injured, but don't seem to be returning as frequently for rechecks or follow-up care.

He confirms his suspicions by comparing the number of recheck exams in 2012 and 2011 to the total number of initial exams (both annual "wellness" visits and sick patient visits) for the same time periods. This information was readily available from his practice software. In 2011, about 19 percent of clients brought their pets back for additional care or a medical progress exam; this figure dropped to about 14 percent in 2012.

Dr. Jensen isn't sure what the right percentage should be in his practice—he knows it should be higher than the 14 percent, but should it be higher than the 19 percent ratio from 2011? He pulls the records from a couple of typical weeks during the past year and reviews the cases.

The solution

Dr. Jensen is going to make a concerted effort to change the way he discusses rechecks with clients. He recognizes that telling someone they "should" come back or "we'd like to see ... " makes it sound optional. He intends to train his team to communicate the importance of rechecks by saying, "Fluffy needs to return in 10 days" or "It's very important that Fluffy be re-examined in 10 days."

Secondly, he realizes that the key is to book the recheck exam before the client leaves. If follow up is needed, either he or his technicians will escort the client up front and communicate directly with the receptionist regarding when and why this should be scheduled. The receptionist, in turn, will communicate directly with the client.

Dr. Jensen is also doing some in-depth financial analysis to answer some of the following questions: By how much could he increase his exam fee? What increase would be necessary for revenue to break even if he eliminated the charge for the recheck exam? What is the estimated dollar amount of follow-up diagnostic and treatment revenue? The answer to these questions will help determine whether to move forward with this plan. Visit for a spreadsheet to help conduct this analysis.

Next month, we'll meet some mixed animal practice owners with problems of their own.

Dr. Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, is the president of Felsted Veterinary Consulting. Jessica Goodman Lee, CVPM, joined Brakke Consulting in 2011.

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