How do your finances match up with those of your veterinary peers?

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The room was full when we presented a sneak peek of our  VPI-Veterinary Economics Financial Health Study at the NAVC, but we knew it would be. Virtually everyone we’d sent an invite to had responded in the affirmative, including those we all identify as the movers and shakers in the veterinary community. We weren’t but a few minutes deep into the data when I was conscious of the fact that the room was dead-quiet, and saw a roomful of colleagues leaning forward with keen interest.

That’s when I knew for sure what I felt myself: The information we were bringing to the veterinary community was what every veterinarian needed to know.

What we presented at NAVC was just the beginning. Along with our partners at Veterinary Economics and Brakke Consulting, we will offering an expanded look at our VPI-Veterinary Economics Financial Health Study at the Western Veterinary Conference, in back-to-back open sessions on Tuesday, February 18 (8 a.m. and 9 a.m., South Seas F, Level 3). Following these seminars, we will be releasing an expanded White Paper.

Get a jump start on the information you need to know to make the best decisions you can no matter where you are in your veterinary career. Download the report from the NAVC presentation from this previous post. And stay tuned: There’s a lot more coming from this study, both from us and from the folks at Veterinary Economics/DVM360.com.

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Items of interest to the veterinary community …

Are we practicing evidence-based medicine? I was tipped to this story in a tweet by Pultizer-winning science writer Deborah Blum, and have to admit it’s thought-provoking. Peter Aldhous is an experienced science writer (he also has a  Ph.D. in biology), and he sees a problem with some of the foundations of common medical treatment for pets. He does make some valid points, and the article is well-sourced. It’s well worth a read, especially since some of your clients will have read it. … And speaking of evidenced-based medicine: The AVMA decides it’s OK with homeopathy, even if some of its members aren’t. Veterinarians in the U.K and Australia haven’t been so congenial, calling homeopathy “ineffective.” I suspect we’ll be talking about this issue for years to come.

Were veterinarians among the winners in the Farm Bill? DMV360.com reports:

[T]he farm bill includes authorization of the Veterinary Services Grant Program, a modified Animal Health and Disease Research/1433 Formula Funds program, and funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. Other programs supported by the AVMA were reauthorized, as was the animal fighting provision listed as the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act on the latest AVMA legislative agenda. Notably absent was the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, which many hoped would be attached to the farm bill. It will now wait its turn for a vote in the House, having passed the Senate Jan. 8.

More here. I’ve written before about the VMMA, which has never been more important in companion animal medicine, thanks to the growth of house-call and hospice-care practices. The AVMA deserves our support on getting it passed.

Do your clients know about pet poisons? I have to wonder if they do. Every year the Pet Poison Hotline releases its list of the Top 10 Toxins for dogs and cats, and it seems the same bad actors make the top 10 every year. At VPI, we see much the same in our claims data.  Yes, some poisonings will happen no matter what pet-owners do, but a large number of these medical emergencies could have been prevented. I wonder if we are doing the best we can to educated pet-owners? How can we do better? Every veterinarian knows of people who over-react when a Labrador eats a white chocolate “kiss,” and we generally think that’s fine — better safe than sorry. But do we do so at the risk of having pet-owners under-react to toxins such as Xylitol?

Recognizing the importance of veterinarians to human health. Always good to see veterinarians acknowledged for the role in human health, isn’t it? Not surprising that this article was written by a veterinarian, but good to see it in a mainstream media outlet:

[The] FDA should ensure that veterinarians actually see the animals they are treating or visit their farms and ranches, and write orders for science-based courses of antibiotics rather than unlimited refills. And of course the agency must also work with the profession to ensure all farmers have access to veterinarians.

While most of us in the veterinary community aren’t working with food animals, those of us in companion animal medicine also need to make sure our clients understand microbial resistance, and work in partnership with us to use these important drugs appropriately.

 Do wellness plans make it easier for clients to say “yes” to dental care? We think they do, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Just before the NAVC, Chicagoland practice owner Greg O’Brien gave a presentation to the Chicago VMA about his experience with our Preventive & Wellness Service (P&WS, pronounced “paws”), noting that the custom plans have increased revenue growth annually, reduced seasonality (stop worrying about the weather’s impact on your waiting room!) and helped improve the ability of clients to offer critical preventive care to their pets. As you’re thinking about Pet Dental Health Month, you might want to think about how you can help your educated clients get the care they want for their pets. We’ll walk you through the set-up, and take away the headache of monthly payments as well. Contact us for more information.

And finally … football! We’ve made a commitment at Veterinary Pet Insurance to start using our claims data to help veterinarians do their important work. But of course, data is also sometimes useful for things that are just plain fun. That’s why we went in to find pets with names that referred to either of the Super Bowl contenders, and then we used the popularity of Denver- or Seattle-related names to predict a winner. How did that work out? About accurate as predicting the outcome with a coin toss … or maybe that’s selling the coin toss short. On the up side, all those dogs named Elway in Colorado are just as happy today as they were before the kickoff yesterday, and happier still to share their joy. I’m guessing you can’t say the same for their owners.  Which just another reason why we love our pets so much.