WVC features AVMA sessions, research results

Studies examine practice productivity, disease risks for brachycephalic dogs

The AVMA offered sessions at the 2023 WVC Annual Conference as part of a partnership with Viticus Group, the organization that hosts WVC. Also during the conference, Idexx Laboratories released a study on practice productivity, and Nationwide released the second of a pair of white papers on the risk of diseases in brachycephalic dogs.

The conference, held from February 19-22 in Las Vegas, attracted more than 16,500 veterinarians, veterinary technicians, practice managers, veterinary assistants, and other attendees. On offer were more than 800 hours of continuing education.

“Viticus Group and its WVC Annual Conference have educated thousands of veterinary medicine professionals since 1928,” said Andrea Davis, chief executive officer of Viticus Group, in an announcement ahead of the conference. “Our 95-year legacy proves the strength in our innovative education, programs and offerings to those who care for our animals.”

A sign with a light-up logo and a lifelike parrot welcomes attendees to the 2023 WVC Annual Conference, held from February 19-22 in Las Vegas. (Courtesy of Viticus Group)

AVMA partnership

At last year’s WVC Annual Conference, the AVMA and Viticus Group announced a partnership to enhance opportunities for continuing education for the entire veterinary team, bringing together the AVMA’s digital education platform—AVMA Axon—and Viticus Group’s hands-on training programs.

Later in 2022, the AVMA and Viticus Group offered learning opportunities in dentistry and sonography that combined hands-on training with digital content.

At Viticus Group’s Jack Walther Early Career Bootcamp in June 2022, the AVMA provided content on suicide prevention and mental health, rudeness on the job, personal finances, risk management for early-career veterinarians, and veterinary assistants.

Clinton Neill, PhD, an AVMA senior economist, shared an economic update during Viticus Group’s Veterinary Practice Manager Symposium in October 2022.

At this year’s WVC Annual Conference, the AVMA provided two sessions as part of the new Journey for Teams program, which offers opportunities to provide more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. The AVMA created the program in conjunction with the Veterinary Medical Association Executives. Latonia Craig, EdD, the AVMA’s chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, spoke on “Cultural Conditioning Reversed.” She spoke with Jen Brandt, PhD, AVMA director of member wellbeing initiatives, on “Intentional Allyship.”

The AVMA also presented the following sessions at WVC:

  • Veterinary Economics in Context (Unique—Just Like Everyone Else)
  • Understanding the Next Generation of Veterinary Professionals (Tick-Tocker Takeover)
  • Connected Care 101: What is Telehealth?
  • Telehealth: How Can I Implement It in Companion Animal Practice?
  • Telehealth: How Can I Implement It in Food Animal Practice
  • FDA’s GFI #256 on Animal Drug Compounding—Balancing the Need for FDA-Approved & Compounded Drugs in Veterinary Medicine (Part 1)
  • Why New Clients May be Asking for Antimicrobial Prescriptions Beginning June 2023 & Adverse Event Reporting of Drugs and Vaccines (Part 2)

Practice productivity

Idexx released a study aimed at addressing constraints in the capacity of veterinary practices. The findings are based on a survey of 786 practices as well as workflow observations, financial evaluations, and practice data.

In the publication “Finding the Time: Empowering Veterinary Teams to Get the Most out of Every Day,” which is available for download, Idexx introduces the veterinary Practice Productivity Index, a data-driven framework and collection of guides for improving practice productivity across the dimensions of workflow, technology, and culture.

Infographic of survey findings
Idexx Laboratories released an empirical study aimed at addressing constraints in the capacity of veterinary practices. The findings are based on a survey of 786 survey practices as well as workflow observations, financial evaluations, and practice data. (Enlarge)

In the workflow category, 82% of study respondents indicated that they are trying to hire for one or more positions and are experiencing difficulties filling those positions. The study details how practices can boost efficiency by taking steps such as adopting the most appropriate staffing model, empowering veterinary technicians to support complex tasks, and improving staff and patient flow within the physical layout of a clinic.

Within the technology dimension, 85% of respondents noted that their practice’s software applications and platforms do not integrate well with their practice information management system, resulting in inefficiencies. The study highlights how software and tools that seamlessly integrate and digitize the patient’s journey are drivers of productivity.

The study also reflects how a practice’s culture, including its approach to talent development, impacts a team’s productivity. For example, although only 48% of respondents said they have a dedicated staff training program, research supports the concept that a program of continuous learning and development generates greater teamwork.

Brachycephalic breeds

A two-part analysis by Nationwide of more than 50,000 brachycephalic dogs with pet health insurance from the company, which is available for download, reveals insights into diseases representing increased risks for brachycephalic breeds and recommends clinical action to improve the care provided for these pets.

The analysis covered 15 purebred brachycephalic dog breeds that met the inclusion criteria for the study. Pugs, French Bulldogs, and English Bulldogs met the criteria for extreme brachycephalic breeds. Those three breeds ranked third, seventh, and 16th in the overall Nationwide purebred population, respectively, and first, third, and fifth among brachycephalic dog breeds in the population.

The second paper states that, for extreme brachycephalic breeds, “Helping to educate current and prospective pet families about the increased risk of serious diseases in these dogs (and the financial, emotional, and welfare concerns that may arise) is time well-spent.”

The likelihood of brachycephalic dogs having a claim for any breathing problem, including brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), was almost three times as high as for nonbrachycephalic dogs. Pugs, French Bulldogs, and English Bulldogs—the extreme brachycephalic breeds in the study—had a dramatically higher chance of having claims for BOAS, even compared with other brachycephalic breeds.

Table: Brachycephalic dogs by Nationwide purebred breed rank

According to Nationwide data, a BOAS diagnosis in extreme brachycephalic breeds can be considered an effective sentinel disease for other conditions that are exacerbated by extreme brachycephalic morphology, such as esophageal disease, pneumonia, and spinal disease.

In light of the data, the analysis recommends actions for veterinary teams and advice for pet owners to address respiratory disease, ocular disease, heatstroke, pregnancy complications, allergic reactions, and BOAS in brachycephalic breeds.

The first paper advises that veterinary teams should “provide genetic counseling to owners of brachycephalic dogs considering breeding, encouraging breeding for healthy dogs as well as breed standards.”

Viticus Group officers

The 2023-24 Viticus Group officers are Dr. Gary D. Weddle, Henderson, Nevada, president; registered veterinary technician Heather Prendergast, Las Cruces, New Mexico, president-elect; Dr. Travis McDermott, Las Vegas, vice president; and registered veterinary technician E. David Stearns, Fall Creek, Wisconsin, secretary-treasurer.