AAHA study reveal trends in practices offering specialty services

Published on June 15, 2006
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The American Animal Hospital Association has released a new specialty and referral practice benchmarking study to broaden the profession's understanding of the veterinary specialty services market.

The 2005 Specialty & Referral Veterinary Practice Benchmark Study examines businesses that employ specialists and provide specialty services. The study findings are published in a white paper available on the AAHA Web site at www.aahanet.org.

"The results of this landmark study reveal information about specialist and referral practices that we hope will promote increased understanding and communication between referring veterinarians and specialists," said Dr. John W. Albers, AAHA executive director.

The study found that small animal, clinical, board-certified specialists own or work in about 746 practices in the United States. Of those included in the survey, 70 percent are smaller-sized practices, typically including one veterinary specialist supported by a staff of four to five.

Notable variations in staffing trends were found within small, midsize, and large practice segments, however, suggesting that specialists staff their practices in many different ways.

Despite the variations reported in practice size, the average annual revenue per specialist was found to be fairly consistent across practice size, with the average revenue ranging from $504,000 to $555,000 per specialist.

Interestingly, the average revenue per specialist was found to decrease as the practice grew in staff size. Revenue per person, which included specialists and veterinary staff, was found to be far less consistent, indicating the need for further study into the roles that specialist and nonspecialist veterinarians play in their practices.

"This study established benchmarks in many key areas of specialty and referral practice as well as brought to light several areas that we hope to examine in future research," Dr. Albers said. "The results are primarily indicative of trends and should be interpreted qualitatively."