The VHMA Files: Got an idea? Run with it!

On the road to veterinary practice improvement, carefully crafted solutions that involve the team win the race.
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Jun 01, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

Are you ready to step up at your practice? The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) recognizes excellence and innovation among veterinary hospital managers through success stories that inspire others to reach further. Consider Nancy Hay, CVPM, RVT, a practice manager with a veterinary hospital in North Ogden, Utah. She recently devised and implemented a strategy for addressing a decline in patient visits at her veterinary practice. Read on to find out what she learned in the process.

The back story

Nancy was hired as a practice manager when the economy was growing and the hospital's client base was strong. As economic conditions deteriorated, she noticed client visits declined. To improve the health of patients and increase client visits, Nancy and her colleagues outlined a strategy to get clients to commit to preventive care. Within a few months, the hospital made significant strides toward successfully implementing this plan.

Overcome hurdles

Nancy has worked since 2005 at the full-service hospital, which provides preventive, urgent and emergency care. In recent years, the number of gravely ill pets arriving at the hospital had increased dramatically. She attributed this to the economy: Clients were deferring preventive and routine care because they couldn't afford it. Her goal was to identify strategies to encourage patients to commit to preventive pet care by introducing wellness plans.

Wellness plans at veterinary practices are sometimes administered by companies, but Nancy suggested offering plans with three distinct levels of care that would be provided through the hospital. Each plan allowed a predetermined menu of annual medical services as well as installment payment options.

Nancy encouraged the team to promote the plans. Team members received training and incentives. As an example, for each pet they sign up, team members are offered $20, which is added to a team fund and divided among team members. Clients received incentives, too, such as half priced initial memberships for additional pets in the same household as well as coupons for discounted visits to pass along to new clients.

Nancy is quick to credit her team members for their role in making the plans a success. Veterinarians and team members must believe in a program to work as a team and meet goals.