carol hart dvm

Is It Time To Offer Wellness Plans?

Last month, AAHA announced that VPI has been added to their list of preferred providers for pet health care plans. Veterinary wellness plans have been endorsed for good reason. Even if many of their clients are compliant with preventive care recommendations, most practices still can increase revenue and monthly cash flow by offering pet health or wellness plans. These plans are particularly attractive to those clients who would like to accept recommended preventive care for their pets but do not have the resources to pay for all the services at one time.

Wellness plans not only may allow you to provide all preventive care needs for your patients, they also should bring recurring revenue to your practice—even during slower parts of the year. In addition, wellness plan clients likely will come to you for all their pets’ needs and will remain bonded to your practice. If you offer a fixed number of exams with your plans, clients will turn to you when their pets have an unexpected illness or injury and you will see ancillary revenue from providing services associated with these visits.

If you want to offer wellness plans, first get your team behind the plans so they will promote them to clients. To obtain staff “buy in” explain the value in ensuring owners have viable options for providing care for their pets. Employees in a small animal veterinary practice generally want to help pets and their families, so remind them of that mission. Pets are family members and veterinary professionals contribute significantly to the emotional well-being of many clients by keeping their pets healthy.

Your practice does not have to discount services under the plans to make them attractive to clients. If fact, if you do discount, you may have to work harder to make up the lost revenue. The value for many clients in accepting wellness plans is that services can be paid for over time, not so much that a discount is offered. For marketing purposes, you can make the plans attractive without discounting by adding complimentary services such as nail trims.

Typically, a one-time enrollment fee is charged to offset ACH provider and other administration costs, build a cushion should some clients default on their payments and to create a bonus pool for team members when they educate clients and gain acceptance of the plans. And, by the way, don’t be too worried about clients obtaining services and then cancelling the plans. The default rate on wellness plan payments is surprisingly low.

Of course, the VPI program is but one option. If you want to design the plans yourself, the “Partners for Healthy Pets” website (sponsored by AAHA, the AVMA and industry affiliates) offers a step by step guide to creating wellness plans, gaining staff acceptance and marketing the plans. You can collect payments under your own plans by using a trusted ACH provider.

If you want to grow your practice, provide all recommended preventive care for your patients and see recurring revenue, you may find offering wellness plans is just the ticket.