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Is Data Driving Your Practice?

Posted By Christine Shupe, Thursday, April 27, 2017

Veterinary managers interested in improving the practice’s bottom line have put data in the driver’s seat. Data can provide a wealth of information about new clients, client opinions, return visits and more. All of this information can be used to run a practice more effectively.


VHMA’s March 2017 Insider’s Insight survey focused on tracking clients and data collection---specifically, how information is collected and the ways in which practices are using the information. The survey was completed by 227 respondents.


To track or not to track


There are many reasons to track clients, including: to determine whether marketing efforts are working, to gauge client loyalty and to receive feedback. Among survey respondents, the majority are most likely to capture information about new clients at monthly intervals.

Approximately 49 percent of the respondents keep tabs on deceased patients and 51 percent do not track or collect this information. Fifty-seven percent also do not follow reactivated patients, but 65 percent do engage and monitor inactive patients.


Inactive v. former


When asked to define “inactive,” respondents do not agree on a universal definition. Forty-one percent say that a patient/client who has not had a transaction with the practice in 18 months is considered inactive. Another 40 percent identify the period of time without contact as 24 months. Write-in responses reveal that 15 percent agree that patients/clients who go without practice contact for 36 months should are considered inactive.


Keeping tabs on patients who have not returned to the practice for preventive care can be time consuming, but 67 percent report that they use some type of practice software to generate reports that makes the task manageable. Once the inactive clients are identified, most practices use phone or email messages to encourage them to schedule a visit. The message, very often, is an appeal to the client about the importance of preventive pet care. Practices also use empathy and concern about the pet’s health to motivate clients to schedule a visit.

Practices also use strategies such as product promotions (32 percent) and discounts (21 percent) to get clients back in the office.


Fifty-nine percent apply subtle pressure on clients to return. They reach out once…possibly twice and then disengage. Thirty-four percent are more persistent and will reach out three or four times. Very few (five percent) exceed five attempts.


Seven percent do not record information about inactive patients or those who have not maintained a preventive care schedule and therefore have not introduced outreach effort to persuade them to return to the practice.

Most practices (73 percent) do not have a formal reengagement program. Of the respondent who have implemented these programs, Demand Force and Vet Success were listed most often.


Of the 48 respondents with a re-engagement program, 40 percent saw a patient return of between one and three percent and 22 percent reported a four to five percent patient return. Respondents speculated that there are three primary reasons that patients do not return: the patient moved out of the area (70 percent), the client has a concern about the cost of care (57 percent) or the pet passed away (43 percent).


To ensure the practice is receiving feedback from clients about the patient experience, half of the respondents survey clients after every visit and 21 percent survey clients about select topics. Sixteen percent never survey.


Data collection and analysis can yield essential information that can have an impact on a practice’s success.

However, for the information to be effective, it should be the catalyst for outlining strategies, taking action and changing the status quo.



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