Veterinary practice management alphabet soup
Kathryn Primm, DVM, owns Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, Tennessee, but has a growing career as a writer, a speaker and an online voice for veterinarians and pet owners alike.
Understanding PCT (per client transaction), plus how (and why) it can help your practice flourish.
In veterinary medicine, millions of acronyms are used in daily practice such as PCV (packed cell volume), WBC (white blood cell), and HCT (hematocrit), to name a few. But there are also several key practice management acronyms that everyone on your team should know. The one I want to emphasize is PCT (per client transaction). PCT is the amount spent by a specific client at a visit. In my opinion, it’s more valuable than money, although we all know that practice revenue is very important.
PCT is a metric you should pay close attention to at your clinic. Overall, understanding the metrics of your practice will allow you to more effectively track your progress. Sometimes your impression of how things are going and the reality can be completely different. I know from experience. Now, I don’t make any changes to my practice until I pull reports first to make sure my impressions are correct. Then, I use those reports to check the progress of my ideas.
Why PCT matters
PCT is a measurement used to test individual and team performance. If the number appears higher, it means that more of your clients are taking your suggestions. It goes one step further. It can also tell you if you are recommending everything possible to help provide efficient and comprehensive care. At the end of the day, diminishing suffering and defending pets is our primary goal.
Where should your PCT be? It depends on your current number, which can be found on your software reports—it’s typically broken down by a doctor. I like to look at trends in comparison with the other metrics in our practice. I compare PCT month-over-month and then the same time last year.
When we are swamped, our PCT may drop because we have less time with each pet. But during slow times, we can provide more recommendations, which (thankfully) helps increase those numbers. We use the standardized estimate feature in our practice management software to ensure that all of our suggestions are consistent throughout. That way, no matter which doctor sees the pet, it’s easier for them to tailor the template for that pet.
To avoid an oversight, we train our team to use a comprehensive plan for wellness patients. Every pet gets a recommendation for parasite testing and products and every client is asked about lifestyle— that way all vaccine recommendations are tailored (but not forgotten). We do not make any recommendations that are not backed by science, but we do offer whatever we can to keep pets healthy and happy. Could that dog with diarrhea also benefit from a probiotic? Maybe so. Did you forget to send pain coverage for that laceration repair? It’s a good thing your technician is trained to make complete recommendations. Right?
Keeping an eye on your PCT will make you a better caregiver and a key contributor to your practice's growth. The pets win, you win, and the practice wins.
Kathryn Primm, DVM, owns Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, Tennessee. She has written and contributed content to consumer magazines such as Woman’s Day and Prevention as well as Veterinary Economics, dvm360, Firstline, Vetted, and dvm360.com. Her regular "Ask A Vet" column is featured on iheartdogs.com and iheartcats.com, reaching more than 3 million viewers. Dr. Primm is the author of Tennessee Tails: Pets and Their People. She was also the nation's first Fear Free certified professional.