In 2018, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) discussed the veterinary specialist shortage, citing growing demand and lack of sufficient residency programs as the causes. Between 2010 and 2017, an additional 47% of specialists joined the workforce, but the percentage was not enough to fill the available openings in universities and private practices. Of the 1,100 veterinarians applying for residencies in 2018, a total of 600 did not match, leading the AVMA to conclude that the lack of available training programs was the limiting factor in filling the void for much-needed new specialists. This AVMA article was published before the COVID-19 pandemic pause, which sent the entire veterinary profession into further crisis. A positive is that the pandemic brought the industry’s most-pressing issues to light, and we have all come together to find solutions for a sustainable future. In the meantime, however, veterinary specialists remain in short supply, but VESPECON offers a solution to help your patients secure the specialty care they need without waiting months for an appointment.
Obstacles to scheduling veterinary specialty appointments
When you refer your patients for specialty care, the appointment scheduling responsibility falls on you, your staff, or the client. However, clients often fail to schedule their pet’s specialty care appointment for several reasons:
- Lack of understanding — Clients may not understand why their pet should see a specialist, or may not understand the value associated with the expense.
- Long wait times — Veterinary specialists’ schedules are often overbooked, and clients may need to wait several weeks or months for an appointment if their pet has a nonurgent issue. Some clients may find these long wait times off-putting, especially if they feel their pet’s condition is more urgent.
- Emergency fees—Because specialists’ schedules are so full, clients may have to have their pet admitted through an emergency department, or during on-call hours, and some clients cannot afford the associated higher fees.
- Forgetful or busy clients—Specialty veterinary clinic hours often coincide with clients’ standard work hours, and some pet owners have difficulty finding the time or remembering to call the veterinary facility during their break time.
As the patient’s referring veterinarian, you can sometimes expedite schedules by calling the specialist yourself. However, you inefficiently use your already-limited time by trying to coordinate your client’s schedule with the specialist’s available appointments.
Veterinary specialty care at your fingertips
Our VESPECON team has developed the tools primary veterinarians and their clients need to access specialty care in a timely manner. When you need a specialty consultation, or would like to refer a patient for specialty care, head to your computer and contact our consulting specialist group. We offer on-demand video consultation, so our veterinary specialist can observe your patient in real time, and conduct a face-to-face discussion to advise you on their care. For particularly difficult cases, all our specialists collaborate with one another, and follow up with you and your patient as many times as needed to resolve their issue. When you use VESPECON’s virtual consulting services, you elevate your patients’ care to the specialty level, and have no lengthy waiting period for a scheduled appointment. In addition, you keep more cases in-house, while learning from our specialists’ expertise. If our specialists determine your patient needs advanced imaging, procedures, or more advanced care, they coordinate the visit with an in-person specialist in your geographic area.
Enhanced veterinary specialist referral services
When your patient needs in-person veterinary specialist care, VESPECON can coordinate the visit, eliminating client variables and saving you valuable time. With VESPECON, you have a dedicated practice champion providing concierge-level service. Our network of in-person specialists reserves appointments for our clients and patients, so when you schedule an appointment through us, wait time is drastically reduced. Your patients do not have to wait weeks or months for an appointment, and our consultants and coordinators communicate directly with the specialist, ensuring they have all the necessary information for a smooth case transfer. Our group also helps transfer the patient back to your care for ongoing follow-up.
VESPECON is improving veterinary access for all patients and clients in need of specialty care. Contact us to learn how VESPECON can benefit your clients, improve patient care, and save you time and energy, elevating your practice to a new level.