Trying to Stay Relevant
The field of veterinary medicine never stands still. We are a profession that is continuously growing and changing to meet the needs of our patients. In the last twenty years or so, this growth seems to have exploded with new services and treatment options available for pet owners to choose from. Our practice is a prime example of a general small animal practice trying to stay relevant in a climate where owners are wanting the best of the best for their animals (yet at a reasonable price!).
From Products to Services
The current trend for a successful veterinary practice is to focus on services rather than products. When I first started in this field (many, many years ago), the veterinary hospital was a place of one stop shopping. It was a place to get vaccines, parasite control, medications and food. Now, owners have low cost vaccine clinics and online retail available at the tips of their fingertips. We all have had that conversation with an owner price shopping around for the flea product or heart worm preventative that their doctor recommended but at the lowest price. You can even get veterinary only medication filled at Walmart now. With this expanded change in availability of veterinary products for owners comes a shift in our focus as a hospital. What can we provide that our clients want and can’t get somewhere else?
Making the Best of Our Services for the Client
Our answer has been cutting edge services. We are a small animal hospital in the middle of rural Delaware that has been developing some amazing opportunities for our patients. Our clients want to be able to get modern health care for their animals without having to travel long distances for it. Why wait for the next day for lab results if you can work with a great in-house lab station? More and more tests are moving from the larger laboratories to the clinic setting. As a hospital, this gives us the answers that we need quickly and allows us to not delay in developing the best plan for the pet. Forget the old hand held x rays. Digital radiographs are quick and easy to share. Need to see a specialist? We can take those survey films here (at a lower cost to our client) and send them directly to the specialist or for a professional review. How about an ultrasound guided aspirate of that suspicious mass? We just happen to have an ultrasound here for our patient’s convenience. No need to travel one or two hours away for these diagnostic tools because great service is what we aim to provide. Orthopedic surgery? Chemotherapy? Joint injections? We can help you with that.
Referral is a Service Too
Now this is the part that gets tricky. We have some powerful tools at our hospital to help us serve our patients. We also need to remember our role as a general practitioner (general being the operative word). Our veterinary purpose is to be able to cover a fair amount of everything and to know when it is time to call in the specialists. Being aware of your limitations and knowing how to get your patient the care that they need is also a kind of service. Sure we do ultrasounds, but this case looks to be complicated enough that a radiologist or internal medicine doctor would probably be more appropriate. These x rays show us where the fracture is but a specialty surgeon would be the best choice for a good recovery. By providing this service of referral, we are continuing to put our patients first and hopefully building the trust that their families have in our practice.
More Changes to Come!
Interestingly enough, in the middle of beautiful Delaware our animal hospital is able to support a thriving mini specialty service as well. Advanced dental procedures, radioactive Iodine for hyperthyroid cats, acupuncture, and a rehabilitation program are the most recent additions to our long list of client services. This opportunity to grow and change with the needs of the patients that we serve is what keeps our little hospital relevant in an ever demanding world. With each passing year, we watch and wait for what is new in the field of veterinary medicine. What’s next? I don’t really know yet but I am sure that it will be awesome!