As a veterinary professional, you want the animals in your clinic to experience the best possible standards of care throughout their life. However, you also want to see your business grow and thrive. One of the best ways of achieving both of these goals is to make sure you have customized messaging tools in place that let you communicate effectively with your clients.

However, successful veterinary practices are extremely busy and it’s not uncommon to hear about client communication and marketing being put on the back burner for more urgent daily tasks. Inevitably, these end up in the ‘too hard’ basket and are forgotten about until practice performance drops to alarming levels.

In fact, according to the 2016 Covetrus Global Veterinary Research Survey, only a small percentage of veterinary practices are diligent in sending out appointment reminders to their clients, let alone any other form of proactive communication. The survey results revealed that only 20% of practices send 250 to 500 reminders per month, another 19% send 100 to 250 reminders monthly and the same percentage send less than 50 reminders each month.

One reminder per patient is insufficient

Of greater concern is that 14% of the 336 practices were unsure of how many reminders they send out each month. The survey also revealed that 44% of practices send only one appointment reminder per patient regardless of success — mistakenly confident that a single reminder will do.

Veterinary communications consultant, Wendy S. Myers, says “without regular check-ups, patients could be exposed to any number of diseases and parasites. Veterinarians also could miss opportunities to diagnose dental disease, obesity, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. Besides protecting patients’ health, check-ups also safeguard your practice’s financial health.”

The financial impact of neglecting repeat visits to your practice can be significant. Covetrus research shows that losing a single appointment each day can cost you over $66,000 in revenue per year. This figure doesn’t take into account the time and money wasted making follow-up calls to schedule and remind clients; nor does it consider money lost through no-shows.

More than 50% of pet owners are ‘inactive’

While your appointment calendar may seem full at first glance, did you know that upwards of 20% of patients in the average veterinary practice haven’t attended an appointment in more than 18 months? Worryingly, this number is growing. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) categorized 53% of dog owners and 59% of cat owners as ‘inactive’ in 2015.

Significant numbers of clients continue to avoid routine examinations or postpone treatments for their pets, and practices report difficulties in re-engaging with clients who have missed several routine appointments.

Wendy Myers calculates that preventive services and products generate 38% of a practice’s income, highlighting the importance of a high and growing compliance rate. Veterinary practices should aim for a preventative care compliance rate of 70% or higher, while the 2016 Covetrus Global Veterinary Research Survey showed that more than 30% of practices failed to achieve this goal.

Statistics consistently underscore the importance of reminders and recalls as a mechanism for ensuring that clients return for scheduled appointments and as the first line of defense against becoming ‘lapsed’ in the first place.

All this underlines the importance of an ongoing, proactive communication channel with clients to increase compliance, with routine attendance, health monitoring and disease prevention being critical to the delivery of excellent care.

A practice management solution that takes care of recalls and reminders and helps with other areas of compliance, such as preventive care, is essential for any modern veterinary practice.

Want to increase compliance and reduce inefficiencies linked to manual reminder methods? Find out more about how to boost the standard of your client communications using Rapport’s customized messaging tools.

Interested in more information? Contact us today.