Second part of equine vet study released

Findings highlight areas for improvement in practice management.

The second phase of the National Equine Veterinary Economic Study gives equine practitioners practical information to help them identify the most impactful areas to focus on for improving the profitability and value of their practice.

According to the announcement, the study objective was to gather quality equine veterinary economic data to help identify challenges and develop solutions for improving practice operations. The study was sponsored by Merck Animal Health and Henry Schein Animal Health, in partnership with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).

"Among other key findings, we were surprised to learn that only half of respondents routinely track payroll expenses as a measure of financial health," said Edward L. Blach, equine veterinary market research specialist and practice management consultant. "Yet, payroll is the largest expense category for almost all veterinary practices."

Research results indicate that only a third of practices utilize inventory management, which is the second highest expense in most practices. Fewer than 45% of practices surveyed track the number of transactions, a key measure of client activity. On the communication front, researchers found that only 60% of practices have a website and/or use email to communicate with clients.

"Identifying these opportunities is half the battle and most can be remedied with minimal investment of time and resources," Blach said. "With just a few small tweaks, equine practitioners can empower themselves with new management practices and business technologies that will greatly enhance the efficiency and profitability of their practice."

Brett Whitehead, director of equine at Merck Animal Health, agreed, saying, "This study has shed more light on business practices that have been overlooked by some veterinary practitioners. In some instances, making immediate changes will equate to quick wins for the clinic and its customers."

Blach was assisted by Andrew R. Clark, a leading equine practice management consultant. Data were collected from nearly 500 AAEP-member veterinarian survey respondents, including practice owners, veterinary associates, academic veterinarians, industry veterinarians, students and retired veterinarians.

Study results are available by registering at IsMyPracticeHealthy.com. The site features searchable business education for veterinarians, a “dashboard” where veterinarians can enter data to track the highest impact indicators for their practice, as well as a “submit a question” feature.

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