5 Practical economic insights for all veterinarians

Published on December 10, 2019
AVMA Chief Economist Matt Salois, Ph.D., speaks at the AVMA Economic Summit

Key takeaways from the AVMA Economic Summit

A record number of veterinary professionals, marketers, analysts, and economists gathered in Chicago for the fifth annual AVMA Economic Summit in October. Attendance for the summit reached an all-time high, and participants heard from experts in behavioral science, marketing, digital transformation, innovation, and other topics crucial to thriving economically in the veterinary profession.

This year's summit included keynote and featured speakers from both within and outside veterinary medicine, and presentations designed to support better decision making. Summit attendees and organizers all learned a great deal from these experts. If you weren't among the attendees, here are five key takeaways you can put to use to in your daily life and business:

  • Creativity isn’t a special gift that some people have and others don’t. It can be nurtured and developed through simple habits and regular practice:
    • Find opportunities for silence.
    • Block out time every day to consume content created by others. It serves as inspiration.
    • Engage in imitation. The most successful innovations advance or imitate a previous idea. 
  • Independent practices can’t be Chewy or Amazon, but … Chewy and Amazon can’t be you, either. Smaller practices can leverage a more intimate relationship to create value for clients.
  • Customer experience has to be a priority for all businesses in the digital age. People want to be remembered and want a personalized experience. Try to personalize every communication with clients, and look for client touch points between clinic visits.
  • How we communicate information to clients makes a big difference. We can improve compliance rates by changing how we say things. Here are two examples:
    • Research shows people are more likely to act if we frame a choice in terms of what could be lost rather than what might be gained. “Did you know that vaccinating your cat can reduce the risk of getting this disease by up to X percent?” tends to be less effective than its mathematical equivalent: “Not vaccinating your cat can increase the risk of getting the disease by up to Y percent.”
    • Similarly, a client whose pet weighs too much might not apply the words “overweight” or “chubby” to the pet, but might correctly identify the pet’s body type when shown visual diagrams of healthy vs. overweight animals.
  • We can improve compliance when we provide incentives that make it easier for clients to do what’s right for their animals. Encourage clients to commit to long-term health goals for their pets, and offer pricing and service options that make these goals easier to achieve. This could mean pricing wellness packages more favorably than one-off visits, or presenting best-practice care plans as the default for all patients while allowing clients to opt out if they prefer a different option.

Other insights from the summit

Intrigued? There were lots of other great takeaways from the Economic Summit presenters, many of which you can find online. Attendees and reporters published a lot of commentary about the summit, including wrap-ups with practical, actionable advice for veterinary businesses. Here are a few:

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