On this episode of The Modern Practice Podcast, host Gary Tiratsuyan welcomes Dr. Sarah Wooten back to the show to discuss how Rectangle Health’s patient financing solution is giving veterinary clinics the ability to treat more pet patients.
During the conversation, Dr. Wooten discusses how veterinary clinics can approach difficult financial conversations with pet-owners, offering hope and a realistic and manageable way for them to pay for the treatment pets need.
To learn more about Dr. Sarah Wooten’s work, visit the link here >>
Gary Tiratsuyan 00:22
Hello everybody and welcome to the Modern Practice Podcast. Really excited for today’s episode as we’re joined by Dr. Sarah Wooten to discuss scaling growth at your veterinary clinic. Dr. Wooten brings 16 years of private clinic experience and a wealth of knowledge to our conversation today. Welcome to the show.
Dr. Sarah Wooten 00:41
Thank you so much for having me, Gary. I’m excited to be here.
Gary Tiratsuyan 00:45
Great. Dr. Wooten, before we get started, can you tell our audience about yourself, your career, the journey in the veterinary space, and what projects you’re currently working on?
About Dr. Sarah Wooten
Dr. Sarah Wooten 00:56
Absolutely. So, as you already said, I graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002, and I practiced for 16 years in small animal private practice in California and in Colorado, both in mom and pop type practices and in corporate practices. Since I did retire from practice back in 2018, and since 2009, I’ve been providing education to pet parents via articles and videos through, oh, gosh, so many major online channels. And I do radio, podcasts and TV news broadcasts as well to bring veterinary education to the pet parents so that they feel more empowered and educated about the decisions they make about their pet’s health. In 2015, I started teaching in the veterinary continuing education space on topics that include communication skills, confidence building, resilience, entrepreneurship, and women in leadership.
And that was where I co developed the card game Vets Against Insanity, which we’ve been selling to the industry since 2017. And then this year, we morphed the game into a regional conference concept called the Vets Against Insanity con because I felt like were really needing more connection, well being, laughter, and high quality ce. So that, in addition to my online courses, is pretty much what I do.
Gary Tiratsuyan 02:28
Amazing. For our listeners, you can learn more about Dr. Wooten’s history and work at DrSarahwooten.com. Let’s get right into it. I want to preface this question with the fact that oftentimes there’s a sad reality when it comes to pet patients. In certain circumstances, pet owners simply cannot afford the extensive treatments when needed when a pet is injured, gets sick. And we know veterinarians get into this line of work with a deep passion and desire to provide the care. So finances are really the barrier. So when I think, how can we knock down these barriers to treatment? I think of recurring payment plans and financing options. These are real life solutions for costly goods and services like buying a car. So why not in the vet space? Dr. Wooten, can you share with us if you think there’s a lack of awareness or resistance to these methods of payment?
Resistance to New Technologies
Dr. Sarah Wooten 03:23
Gary, I think it’s really both. So I think there’s resistance to something like keeping a card on file because I’ve seen this over and over again. That’s what they’ll set up. They’ll set up the payment program and then practice owners get burned because A, the client closes the card after receiving services or they just don’t have enough money on the card or in the account to pay the monthly payments. And so then we look at the accounts receivable list just get bigger and bigger and there’s a lot of resistance to that because at the end of the day, a veterinary clinic is still a business.
I also think that there’s a lack of awareness to new financing options because again, in my experience when it came to financing options such as lines of credit, the people who needed the line of credit the most were the ones that got turned down. And so then they were embarrassed and they’re already stressed about their pet. And then they have to call their aunt and their mother and their brother to cobble together enough lines of credit to get the financing. And of course that takes a bunch of time. So then they tie up the exam room and the parasaff and I’ve seen it go on for an hour or even longer and the whole time the animal is there suffering and everyone’s upset and it’s just a hoorah. Right?
So I could see that there is resistance to that and also a lack of awareness that there are other options out there that are not as difficult or frustrating. I think there’s a lack of awareness of the patient financing program that Rectangle Health offers because if they did, they would likely offer it more often because it’s an easy, quick way to gain access to that financing and hardly anybody gets turned down and then the veterinarian gets to do their job. So again, Gary, I think it’s both great.
Benefits of Patient Financing for Veterinary Practices
Gary Tiratsuyan 05:21
Doctor Wooten so if you were to speak to a veterinary clinic or even an organization with multiple locations, ultimately this patient financing program would be something and should be something that they’re willing to adopt. Right? Because it scales the business. It takes on pet patients that otherwise they wouldn’t if the pet owner simply could not afford the treatment or care, like you said, they’re going to be scrambling to find funds. But with this up to $5,000 worth of funding, it’s a manageable way to take on the expense, make sure that the pet patient is being treated and the pet owner ultimately is in a good place financially to make those payments and get the treatment that they need. Right.
Dr. Sarah Wooten 06:16
I do think this program, I think it definitely addresses several pain points that we’ve already brought up both on the veterinary side and on the client side. And so I do think if were speaking to new veterinary clinics about this program, if they have already had issues with clients not being able to afford care, or if they have had issues with payment plans and the decision maker was aware of how an option like this would make it easier for clients to get financing and how a program like this would affect their bottom line. I would definitely say they’d be willing to adopt it because it would solve so many of the issues that we experience day in, day out in the trenches of veterinary medicine.
Gary Tiratsuyan 07:01
Thank you so much for that. That’s really insightful. And again, you hit the nail on the head a few moments ago when you said improving the bottom line. When I look at the financing program as a whole, we’re looking ultimately at scaling your veterinary clinic, scaling the business side of the care so the veterinary practice as a whole is able to take on more pet patients and grow in revenue. And I also want to mention retention. That experience of a pet owner coming in, needing the treatment for their pet, saying, what are my options? And the vet turning around and saying, well you’ve got a few. We can set you up with a card on file. We could set you up with Text-to-Pay so that you get automatic messages to Pay increments.
And ultimately with this $5,000 in funding with patient financing, they are able to again manage this treatment from a financial perspective. And the veterinary clinic, because they offered that option now, sort of has built this loyalty with the pet owner. They know that they can go there and get the treatment that they need. What does that do for growing a veterinary clinic?
Dr. Sarah Wooten 08:29
Oh my gosh, it does so much. You already hit several of the points about being able to have more patients seen and be able to do more with each of those patients. You have more efficiency with your staff because again, sometimes this line of credit, it takes up hours of parastaff time and then you’re able to free up those exam rooms if you can get them in, get them treated, move them on out, get the next person in. Next case, you also have higher levels of compliance and adherence, which historically speaking, if you look at the numbers in veterinary medicine, are terrible. We are not being able to get enough compliance and adherence out of our clients so that we can get the care that their pets need.
And so it hits several different parts and it also hits client retention because that client is going to have a good feeling about your veterinary hospital. They’re going to feel like I can go in there and I can get the care that I need. I don’t need to feel embarrassed or have shame if I don’t have the funds at that moment. And then they’re going to tell their friends and then they’re going to go on Google or Yelp or wherever, and they’re going to leave reviews. And so there’s a lot of not tangible benefits. I mean, obviously you’re going to see the financial benefits right away, but then there’s all these other not tangible benefits that you’re going to be experiencing.
In addition, you have things like veterinary well being so your veterinarians don’t have to be stressing out about, okay, what do I take off the estimates so that the client will actually do what I’m telling them to do? What can they afford? They only have $500. What can I do? And so then you add that in as well. And it’s not just the veterinarian, it’s your front staff, it’s your technicians, it’s your assistants, because it all goes together. There are so many benefits to this program. Obviously, I can’t say enough, right, because I just keep talking. But yes, this option would open the door to providing higher quality care to patients who wouldn’t otherwise get the care.
And I’m thinking about so many cases that I have seen that ended up with honestly in economic euthanasia or got lower quality care because that was all they could afford, even though I could have done so much more for the patient. I’m thinking about your parvo cases. I’m thinking about the hit by a car or the little family that gets the Chihuahua and they don’t understand that when the Chihuahua jumps off of a chair and breaks its leg, then they suddenly have a $3,000 bill. I’m thinking about things like dentistry. That’s always a huge surprise for people. And there’s been so many times where I haven’t been able to give these patients the care that they need because the client couldn’t afford the dental care. I’m also thinking about so many times when there’s a torn ACL, which is the anterior cruciate ligaments.
I mean, everybody who’s listening knows that. And everybody who’s listening has had to not give a dog the care that they needed because the person couldn’t AFFord to have the surgery done. So many things there. I hope I answered your question, but yes, so many benefits, Gary.
A More Permanent Solution
Gary Tiratsuyan 11:50
You absolutely did. And one thing I want to bring up is what you mentioned a few moments ago. It’s taking care of the pet patient completely, giving treatment in its entirety, not piecemealing, not saying, okay, we can do this and then we can sort of push off this treatment for a little while until those funds are there to pay for the procedure. With patient financing, we’re looking at ultimately more care, more treatment, and more permanent solution to an issue that a pet may have. It’s really all encompassing and handling the issue or the illness or whatever the injury may be at the point that it needs to be handled so that there’s no longer costs in the future. Right?
We’re looking at not delaying, like I said, not sort of partial treatments here and there, not trying to figure out what we can do sort of as a Band Aid, but ultimately getting the right fix in for the pet and treating the pet on the spot the right way.
Dr. Sarah Wooten 13:09
Absolutely. As you were talking, I was just thinking about how many times I’ve had to delay vaccines or heartworm testing or heartworm prevention or fecal testing because somebody comes in for their annual exam and they are rightly surprised by the five to $700 price tag that’s there for just doing annual preventive medicine. And I’m thinking exams, all of your parasite testing, all of your vaccinations, annual blood work and urine on older patients, the list goes on. And so I remember having the conversation so many times, okay, well, all right, we can do this and this today, and then we’re going to make a plan to do this in a month when you get your paycheck and then do the next thing in a month when you get your next paycheck.
And it would be something like heartworm testing, right, or like the Leptosporosis vaccine, and then what happens in those two months if that animal is exposed? Right. So this allows the pet to get the care when they come in. That also helps because then you’re not tying your parastaff up with vet appointments when these people come back in over and over to get this stuff done little by little. Yeah, that’s just something else that I was thinking about, and that’s preventive care. Right? So there’s a lot of ways to apply this.
Gary Tiratsuyan 14:35
Thank you, Dr. Wooten, and thank you for all your insights today. I think ultimately, the financing program as a whole is allowing the pet owners to consume the care for the pet to receive the care that they need at the time they need it in a new financially manageable way. Again, I want to thank you for coming on the podcast today and appreciate all your insights.
Dr. Sarah Wooten 15:05
Absolutely, Gary. It is a pleasure to be able to introduce something like this to our community, and I hope it helps a lot of people.
Gary Tiratsuyan 15:13
It absolutely will. For our veterinary professionals listening in today, if you’d like to learn more about Rectangle Health Patient Financing Program, follow the link in the description below and reserve a time to speak to our experts about how this solution can scaling growth at your veterinary clinic. Till next time, everybody.