07. 30. 21
Like most industries in 2020, veterinarians had to adapt to rapidly changing coronavirus-related business closures. As the pandemic began, veterinarians had to rapidly find new protocols for providing client service while keeping employees, clients, and pets safe. Because of this need, curbside care emerged as a useful alternative to traditional care, allowing providers to see patients while keeping clients out of the lobby and exam rooms. The curbside care model created an opportunity for veterinarians to continue to operate, and even thrive, while restrictions remained in place.
Today, many geographical areas are lifting restrictions and returning to pre-pandemic operations. Some practices are looking at curbside care as a continuing addition to their services. For many practitioners, curbside care has evolved from an emergency procedure to a revenue grower.
Although the adoption rate for curbside care is high, there are still practitioners who might be reluctant to keep offering this form of care at their offices. By continuing to provide curbside care, veterinary practitioners can have the chance to grow their revenue and cater to their clients’ preferences for convenience.
While there are challenges associated with keeping curbside care as an option, the benefits often outweigh the transition efforts. Veterinary industry trends suggest that curbside care can improve revenue and streamline care for all parties involved.
The veterinary services industry recorded steady growth in recent years leading up to 2020, due to several factors:
All of this growth drives revenue for veterinary professionals.
At the beginning of 2020, many veterinary practices took a revenue hit when they were shut down entirely or limited in what they could offer and how many patients they could see. In some states, industry operators were deemed essential, but not in all. As a result, the impact to revenue for most operators was initially negative. According to a survey conducted by Independent Vets early in the period, 75% of veterinary hospitals reported a drastic reduction in revenue of more than 20%.
As these hospitals were allowed to reopen, most recovered in revenue and even grew. An IBISWorld report shows that 2020 ended with an 8% revenue increase due to more pet ownership and the corresponding demand for veterinary services.
Industry revenue may have been driven by surging pet ownership, but it was sustained by adapting nimbly to the operating challenges posed by the pandemic. The majority of providers implemented new policies and procedures, such as curbside care, to limit client contact. Curbside policies may include:
While every practice adapted protocols to their own situation, the curbside model helped them follow distancing guidelines that allowed them to stay open and continue caring for patients. In many instances, however, these extra measures increased patient care time. According to a study from New York State Veterinary Medical Society, some practices estimate that they added up to 25% more time per patient than standard care.
Initially, most practices that adopted curbside care did so to make the best of a challenging situation. As the world moves into a post-COVID era with few or no restrictions on customer contact, some businesses plan to revert to their pre-pandemic models. Some veterinary practitioners simply don’t want to continue offering curbside care because they feel it’s less efficient and makes it harder to connect with clients.
There are also many practitioners who discovered there are benefits to adding curbside care to their list of services. Not only can they streamline some of their operations, but many clients find that this type of care suits their needs as well.
Practices who choose to continue to offer curbside services must examine their workflow going forward. They need to look at curbside veterinary care as an important part of their business model, not just a stopgap solution. As they examine their procedures, here are some challenges to pay attention to and address:
While there are challenges with providing curbside care, there are also benefits to both veterinarians and clients that make it worthwhile:
Practices who want to continue offering a more permanent solution should examine their procedures. While at some practices curbside was fine as a temporary measure but may need updating to ensure an easy, more convenient solution for both staff and clients. There are several different ways to structure curbside services. Veterinarians who want a long-term curbside solution for their patients should consider some of these options:
Expanded care options are here to stay for many veterinary practices and new curbside clinics. These services offer a way to accommodate a growing client base and grow business revenue, while maintaining a high standard of care for patients. Curbside healthcare can be an efficient, profitable service for veterinary practices.
Successful curbside veterinary care must include healthcare payment solutions. Digital tools and contactless payment solutions allow offices to:
Rectangle Health’s Practice Management Bridge® platform solves the challenges of providing curbside care by connecting client and provider through improved communications and convenient payments. Developed exclusively for healthcare and ideal for veterinary practices, Rectangle Health’s Practice Management Bridge platform:
Practice Management Bridge helps veterinary practices to streamline their operations. Completely touchless from check-in to check-out, clients can use their own device, and you’ll simplify your workflow with these benefits:
Rectangle Health’s Practice Management Bridge platform offers tools and functionality to facilitate both communication and payment between client and provider of veterinarian services.
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