Pharmacy challenges: Present and future
Pharmacy revenues have declined in recent years. The challenges of conventional retail stores and online pharmacies are taking market share from veterinarians. While I support consumers who save money, the reality is that pharmacy revenues have helped financially support our practices. The loss of an important source of income is not sustainable, and we must either compete with other pharmacies or find ways to practice medicine better and compensate for the loss of income. These insightful tips will help you meet the challenges of pharmacy in your practice.
Better medicine equals better profit.
Pets have a lot of issues, most of which aren’t even noticed by the owner (and some aren’t noticed by us until lab tests are complete). If owners allow us to find and treat problems, any lost pharmacy income is easily replaced with more frequent care and visits to our patients. Why just guess at a possible infection of the skin, bladder or ear? Work on the case, practice better medicine, serve our patients and clients with exceptional service and care, and watch your business soar!
Injectable drugs improve adherence and cost effectiveness.
Giving most, if not all, pets a starter injection to help treat the condition can ensure that they will begin to heal before they leave your office. Moreover, this method is also accepted by the owners and is a service which cannot (yet) be purchased. As a holistic vet, I’m not a fan of longer-acting injections, but they can be useful as a substitute for oral medications and certainly cannot be purchased at the local pharmacy (and hopefully, will not be available over the counter anywhere).
Nutritional supplements help the patient and the practice.
As a holistic physician, I primarily use supplements for my patients rather than resorting to conventional medications. Every pet can benefit from supplements, and all doctors are qualified to use the most basic supplements, such as fatty acids, antioxidants, enzymes and probiotics, and joint supplements. Adding one or more supplements to your patient’s treatment plan will benefit the animal, possibly prevent side effects from your prescribed medications, and improve results. To prevent customers from buying on the Internet, consider private labeling or purchasing from manufacturers who only sell to physicians. If you are not familiar with the science of supplements, I will offer you a selfish listing recommending my latest book, Nutritional Supplements for Veterinary Practice: A Pocket Guide.
Prescribe enough medication only at the first visit to ensure effectiveness.
This idea is useful for several reasons. First, there is no reason to prescribe a 3-4 week dose of a drug that might not work. Second, the prescription of a 5-7 day dose along with the all-important follow-up / progression review ensures effectiveness and allows you to switch drugs if your initial choice is ineffective. Third, keeping in touch while seeing the patient again is a good remedy. Finally, more visits equals more client liaison time as well as much needed income to pay you for your time and expertise.
Progress checks / reviews are essential for recharging.
As a physician, you are more qualified than the owner to determine the animal’s progress and whether continuing treatment with the original prescription is in the animal’s best interest. Rechecks are needed to continue taking medication and often reveal additional illnesses that need to be treated. If you are using a long-acting injection during the initial visit, then it is important to realize that you will not have the automatic progress test. To make up for the lack of revenue, bill correctly on the first visit.
Regular laboratory tests are also essential for recharging.
Patients on chronic medication require constant assessments. This is true in human medicine and must become the norm in veterinary medicine. Check your patients frequently. Most of the pets seen in my holistic practice were not followed up regularly despite multiple refills of potent and potentially toxic drugs. Don’t make this mistake. For example, iatrogenic Cushing is a real disease. Often my assessment reveals new illnesses that should have been and would have been detected earlier if only the original prescribing physician had done their job correctly. “No tests, no recharges,” and “No rechecks, no recharges,âIs good medicine and good business.
If you can’t beat them, you might be able to meet them.
If you really want to keep the sale and avoid losing money, cover the costs of the local pharmacy where possible. I’m not a big fan of losing money or discounts, but if you follow the suggestions above to replace lost revenue, cutting drug costs to less profit may not affect your wallet.
Make payment easier and lower costs with pet insurance, wellness plans, and third-party payment companies.
Many of my clients have pet insurance and care credit which allows them to do the things listed above so that we can practice high quality medicine and be mindful of the animal’s best interests. Not all insurance is the same, and some companies are easier to work with than others, but the whole point of insurance is for customers to say yes to your treatment. Care Credit allows clients to set a realistic budget for more expensive treatment plans. Many practices, including mine, find monthly payments for wellness plans highly valued and accepted by pet owners. Not only do these plans, which make it easy to budget for pet-related expenses and save money for the owner, result in more frequent healthcare visits, these visits make clients and pets more attached to your practice. . Regular visits also provide more opportunities to find problems that need treatment.
Evaluate your costs regularly.
Perform a tariff diagnosis. Let’s face it: if you lose income in 1 area of ââpractice, it needs to be compensated in other areas. Make sure your fees pay you adequately as a doctor. Raising fees in 1 area can help you lower your pharmacy costs and not lose revenue. The services rendered generate more net profits than the products sold. Earn money for your knowledge and skills rather than drugs that anyone can sell.
Automatic dispatch of commonly used drugs.
Online (and retail) pharmacies do, so if you want to increase customer convenience, auto delivery is a must. He helps the client by saving travel time to collect medication and ensures proper treatment of the animal. Autoship also provides a guaranteed and constant flow of funds to the practice, so everyone wins!
Shipping medication / supplements equates to owner convenience.
For clients who do not have time due to busy schedules or distances to travel to your practice, sending medications / supplements by mail ensures compliance, connection with clients and enables save potentially lost income. Yes, it can be overwhelming and requires a dedicated employee, depending on the number and frequency of products being shipped, but it may be worth it for your practice.
While these recommendations can help you tackle the loss of pharmacy income and practice better medicine, ultimately you will need to decide how much of your pharmacy business, if any, you choose to keep. The suggestions listed here have stood the test of time and have helped physicians maintain or even increase their income despite the threat of another unexpected source of competition.
Shawn P. Messonnier, DVM, owns the Paws & Claws Holistic Animal Hospital in Plano, TX, and participates in dvm360Â® Editorial Advisory Board. He has written several books on marketing as well as holistic veterinary medicine.
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