The modern veterinary clinic depends on a whole series of tools to communicate with pet
In the first part of our series examining Wellness Plans, we discuss what they are, why they matter and what to consider when setting them up.
What Are Wellness Plans?
Wellness plans are a great way to increase client compliance and retention, improve the overall health of your patients and boost customer loyalty. The basic idea of a wellness plan is to create a “package” of basic wellness treatments offered at a set price (often slightly discounted) to encourage regular health checkups. Clients pay for the package up front and then visit your clinic throughout the year to receive the services they purchased.
Why Offer Wellness Plans?
A seminal 2015 study conducted by Brakke Consulting in partnership with National Veterinary Associates, the third-largest group veterinary hospital group in the U.S., found a direct correlation between wellness plan enrollment and increased revenue for the practice. The study found that clients who enrolled in wellness plans visited the clinic 69% more often (from 3.3 visits per year to a 5.5 visits per year), that they spent 57% more on medical services per patient (from $389 to $613) and that they spent 29% more on non-medical products and services (from $223 to $286).
A 2011 Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study further bolstered the financial benefits of Wellness Plans. The study found that pet owners would visit the veterinarian more often if: (1) veterinarians provided a health plan for their pet, and (2) pet owners could pay for routine veterinary services in monthly installments. Wellness plans satisfy both objectives.
What Are Common Pitfalls?
Most clinics grossly underestimate the amount of time required to properly manage wellness plans. As a result, they attempt to manage their wellness plans manually, which quickly overwhelms a practice and dramatically raises costs. A recent DVM360 study found that staffing costs increase up to $3,500 a month when clinics manually manage wellness plans instead of using an automated, software solution!
Designing the plans is another common area of difficulty. There are many factors that need to be considered, including what to include in the plans to make them attractive to clients, how much to charge for the plans, and how much production credit should be given for plan services. Failing to consider the various variables often leads to low adoption and profit erosion.
Finally, clinics struggle with promoting their wellness plans to clients. Promoting plans doesn’t necessarily mean putting together expensive flyers or email campaigns. Usually, just knowing when to present them to a client is all that is needed. However, this requires that every staff member learn to recognize opportunities to present wellness plans to clients who would benefit from them.
What to Look For When Selecting a Solution
A wellness plan solution should deliver a win-win-win: your clients receive more value and enjoy the convenience of pre-set wellness checkups and services; your clinic enjoys a financially benefit from a defined revenue stream, the opportunity to sell more, and administrative cost savings; and patients receive better care because of the preventative and proactive health services included in the plan.
The right solution will largely automate plan management. Automation helps reduce manual work and errors. For example, prices for plan items should automatically be adjusted on an invoice without needing to check on plan enrollment, recurring payments should be automatically collected through the solution to minimize the time needed to manually process payments, and comprehensive reports should provide real-time views into enrollment, compliance, and production.
Creating plans should be simple and intuitive. There should neither be a limit on the number of plans that can be created, nor on the number or types of items that can be included. Plans should include the option to define annual or monthly payment terms, varying subscription terms, and plan-specific production rates. In addition, the option to offer non-plan discounts should be available.
Training your team to promote your Wellness Plans.