Veterinary specialty care is expensive, and rightfully so. Specialty facilities offer advanced, progressive equipment and services and a standard of care that easily rivals human health care. Specialist veterinarians sacrifice years of income and move all over the country to pursue extra years of education through internships and residencies that prepare them for high-level practice. Their expertise, therefore, comes at a cost. 

Many clients will balk at the initial cost of specialty care, which may seem out of reach, but others will be willing to take on any cost necessary for their beloved pet. If a primary care veterinarian assumes that clients cannot afford specialty care or will be upset at the suggestion, they may choose not to offer this option, which is a disservice to the client, the pet, and the veterinarian. VESPECON wants to change this thinking.

Is specialty referral actually more expensive?

While specialty care may appear more expensive at first, referral can save your clients money in the long run. Pets with chronic or complex conditions often need multiple visits for problem diagnosis and treatment, and if you don’t have the knowledge, experience, or equipment to resolve the condition, the pet is going to keep coming back with recurrent, worsening, or ongoing issues. You may repeat the same treatments over and over, because you have nothing else at your disposal. Each visit costs clients money, but doesn’t solve their pet’s problem. Consulting with a specialist in-house or sending pets for specialist referral can resolve or control their problem with fewer visits, and ultimately save money on ineffective, repeat treatments. 

If you feel that a pet needs specialist care to manage a specific problem, an honest discussion with the owner can help re-frame their concerns. Explain why you believe the pet will fare better with specialty care, and that resolving the condition faster can save them money, despite the higher initial price tag. You may find this strategy convinces more clients to accept the offer than expected. This honesty can also help gain your client’s trust, and prevent them from losing faith in the practice’s ability to treat their pets.

If clients save money on fewer visits, does my practice lose revenue?

Studies show that specialist care not only saves clients money, but also improves revenue for the referring veterinarian, because:

  • Once the specialist stabilizes the pet, they rely on the primary veterinarian for continued monitoring and care, which brings in revenue from laboratory diagnostics, medication refills, and recheck visits.
  • Improved survival times for chronic conditions mean these pets keep coming back for routine care longer. One congestive heart failure study showed pets survived 74% longer under collaborative care versus primary care alone.

How VESPECON can facilitate collaborative care

Clients can save money and still obtain needed specialized care through VESPECON’s virtual consulting services. Primary care veterinarians who sign up with VESPECON have fingertip access to a consulting specialist team whose members host various disciplines, and work together to provide the primary veterinarian with specialist-level knowledge and case-management tools. During a virtual consultation, our team uses video chat to establish a personal relationship with you and your patient, and to see what you see in real time. This allows us to guide you through diagnostics, interpretation, and effective treatment plan development.

After the initial consultation, our team will continue to follow up and help you provide elevated, ongoing care in your own practice. Our team is small, and you’ll chat with the same person each time to ensure care continuity. Everyone benefits from collaborative care—you keep the revenue from treating your own patient, and clients can save money and travel time to a referral veterinarian. If we determine that your patient requires in-person referral for advanced imaging, surgery, or other highly specialized care, we can help you facilitate the transfer to a local specialist in our referral network. Our concierge team does the work for you by securing your patient a timely appointment spot, communicating with their team to transfer records and other relevant information, and helping transfer the patient back to your care after specialty services are completed.

The VESPECON team believes collaborative care can benefit clients, pets, and the veterinary team. We work hard to ensure all clients can access specialty care, regardless of financial limitations, and to help them save money over time. If you’re ready to learn more about VESPECON and how our services can benefit your practice, visit our website to get started.