Referrals in the veterinary world are a fact of life. Whether you are the referring veterinarian or the at the specialty hospital, you send/receive patients based on a variety of factors, including:
• Geographical proximity and technology availability
• Expertise with surgeries and pathologies
• Personal relationships
Some of you create a symbiotic relationship with your referring/ee counterparts, while some of you would cut it off if you could. In both cases, incorporating a CT scanner into your practice has benefits that make logistical and financial life easier.
People go out of their way to care for their animals. We are all in business as a result. And it is curious how that bond is affected by age on both ends. For young, but injured animals, the idea that they could live a long life if the injury is addressed now prevails. For older animals, they have become so engrained as a family member, that the thought of not pursing an avenue to diagnose/treat their animals is quickly squashed.
But it is exceedingly difficult for pet-owners to drive long distances with their animals, both for diagnostics but also for therapeutics and/or surgical interventions. The current state of the market puts several hundred CT scanners in the veterinary world to support the 30,000+ veterinary clinics over the full geography of the North America. This means that on average, a pet-owner may be 50-100 miles from their closest CT-equipped facility, which is often one of the 30 veterinary universities. Filling in the map with more veterinary CT scanners has the benefit of decreasing the travel of pet-owners and therefore increasing their compliance when this type of advanced imaging is suggested. For the clinic though, it offers a demonstrable financial advantage. Consider an example.
A pet-owner is referred to a specialty center for imaging, and when they get their results in that exam/waiting room, the doctor there identifies the issue and suggests a curative action, which in the CT realm is often a surgical procedure. The pet-owner has the option to go back to the referring veterinarian (who may/may not have the expertise to perform the surgery) or they can remain at the specialty center who is more than willing to accept the revenue for the procedure.
Put yourself in the pet-owner’s shoes. If you were referred here because they had higher diagnostic technology, you may think they also have more expertise in what comes next.
Wouldn’t you rather keep that revenue (plus that which comes from the actual CT scan) in house? I’d wager than any estimates you make currently of lost revenue from referrals is an under-estimate, simply because of what other procedures, rehab, etc. are not immediately visible to you.
If your staff currently lacks some of the expertise to perform these procedures, then a CT helps in two ways. First, it can help you recruit that talent, which you know will enhance your practice’s reputation and eventual revenue. Second, it can strengthen your relationship with your local brethren. Think how powerful it would be to your relationships if you assured a new referring veterinarian that you will only perform the diagnostic scans, but will not attempt to “poach” their clientele. Combine that with the fact that your services are more convenient for their pet-owners, and you’ve provided a valuable partnership that will be mutually beneficial.
SOUND Top Tip
Call a reference list of clinics who have newly installed CT scanners and ask how much added revenue and referrals they’ve noticed since implementation.
Whether you view the referral network as a benefit or a necessary evil, implementation of
advanced imaging modality (such as CT) will open up new avenues of revenue, relationships, and above all, an enormous benefit to your patients.