Bayer study, part 2: Half of veterinarians seeing fewer patients
Fifty-one percent of veterinarians who participated in the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study reported a net decrease in patient visits in the last two years. In addition, 42 percent said their revenues decreased in 2010 as compared with 2009. The decline in visits continues a trend that has been documented over the last decade even as the number of dogs and cats has increased, the study’s organizers said Monday.
These findings were released as part of the second major phase of the study conducted by Bayer Animal Health in cooperation with Brakke Consulting and the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI). Results from an earlier national study of pet owners were announced in January. Other key findings from phase two of the usage study include:
• 95 percent of veterinarians surveyed believe that both dogs and cats require at least one veterinary wellness visit annually.
• 72 percent of veterinarians believe wellness exams are the most important service provided.
• 83 percent of veterinarians believe that running a veterinary practice is as much a people business as it is a medical service.
“Our initial findings from pet owners established the misperception that regular veterinary checkups were not vital to the ongoing health of their pet,” said Ian Spinks, president of Bayer Animal Health North America, in a prepared statement. “What we are now being told by veterinarians is that they believe the development of an annual wellness program for their patients is likely the single most important service that they can provide.”
The study also found that a number of veterinarians are using social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter as key components of their practice’s business strategy. In addition, the study identified that feline care may account for up to 80 percent of all practice growth opportunities. “What this study shows is that veterinarians are hearing the calls of their clientele and are working to adapt their practices,” said Dr. Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, CVPM, chief executive officer of the NCVEI.
The first phase of the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study focused on the decline in veterinary usage from the pet owners’ perspective, identifying six root causes: the recession, the fragmentation of veterinary services, increasing use of the Internet, feline resistance to veterinary care (on the part of cats and their owners), the perception that regular medical checkups are unnecessary, and the cost of care.
The objectives of the second phase of the study were to identify any correlation between clinic revenue and pet visits, to identify the use of successful practice tools, and to establish the degree to which veterinarians are utilizing services identified in phase one of the study. Results are based on a nationally representative quantitative online survey of 401 companion animal veterinarians.