COVID-19: How have veterinary practices responded?

Published on May 21, 2020
AVMA Chart of the Month

There’s no question that COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on veterinary practices and practitioners.  The novel coronavirus has changed the way veterinary teams interact with clients and patients, the number and types of services we offer, and how and where we get needed supplies. 

To better understand this impact, the AVMA conducted a large survey of practice owners nationwide in April 2020. We asked about operational changes, client numbers, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies, financial impact, and other topics, and collected more than 2,000 responses. 

This chart highlights one set of the key findings revealed by the survey. 

Responding to COVID-19: AVMA survey data

Key findings

Among the important insights:

  • Nearly every veterinary practice – more than 98% – has limited client contact because of COVID-19.
  • The most common operational change has been asking clients to wait in vehicles while animals are examined and treated. 
  • Other common approaches include contactless payment processing, taking patient history by phone or virtually, and drive-thru pick-up and drop-off. 
  • Over 30% of veterinary practices were using telemedicine. 
  • Precautions to protect human health and safety include asking clients to maintain social distancing, asking team members with symptoms of illness to remain at home, and canceling at least some appointments.

Why does this matter?

The survey results provide a broad picture of how COVID-19 has impacted clinical practice. Practitioners across the nation can compare individual experiences against these findings, and look to the examples of peers and colleagues for new ideas and approaches.

The data also provide important information for the AVMA and other organizations that serve veterinary teams and veterinary medicine. Here are just a few of the ways in which the AVMA is using this information to protect, promote, and advance the profession:

  • Identify what strategies are working most successfully for some practices and might be replicated by others.
  • Guide the development of tools and resources to support veterinary teams.
  • Provide informed economic forecasts that help practice owners and others in the profession plan and prepare for what’s ahead.
  • Support policy development and advocacy on behalf of veterinarians and practices.
  • Provide data at the state level to help state veterinary medical associations understand the effects in their area, and guide local advocacy and support efforts. 
  • Inform and empower the veterinary community to better plan, strategize, and succeed during COVID-19 and beyond.

Dig deeper

In all, the survey asked approximately 50 questions, ranging from when practices first were impacted by COVID-19 to what clients have asked asking about, how practice costs and income have changed, how client traffic has changed, what activities and services were canceled or continuing, and much more. The respondents – 2,017 in total – represented different practice sizes, types, and species.

All of that information is available for you to view on AVMA’s COVID-19 website (avma.org/Coronavirus). Read high-level findings in a one-page executive summary, or download the full report.
 

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