Top 5 Reasons to Invest in Veterinary Ultrasound – Including an Analysis of AAHA and University of Illinois Data

By November 10, 2018 December 31st, 2018 Ultrasound

Including an Analysis of AAHA and University of Illinois Data

In recent years, ultrasound has become mainstream in the veterinary industry. But why? What are the top reasons people are investing in veterinary ultrasound?

  • Advancements in the technology
  • Affordable pricing to veterinarians as well as to pet-owners
  • Reduced Diagnostic Costs
  • Discovery of new diagnostic applications and specialty niches
  • Increase referral network

How far has veterinary ultrasound technology progressed?
Today’s veterinary ultrasound systems are easier to use with higher resolution and improved image contrast, to the point that we can now reliably see smaller organs and decipher more subtle lesions, leading to quicker and easier diagnoses unimaginable only 5 years ago!. There are even automatic image optimization features that allow DVMs and veterinary technicians relief from tedious machine controls while focusing on faster, more accurate diagnoses.

What is the average cost of veterinary ultrasound system for a small animal practice?
The average price tag of a veterinary ultrasound system with a basic set of probes ranges from $18,000 to $30,000, and depends on features such as portable vs. console systems, the number and variety of probes, and the inclusion of various software features that may include and real-time, on-board coaching modules.

So admittedly, veterinary ultrasound is an expensive modality. As such, many veterinarians are hesitant to foot the upfront cost, but recent data from the University of Illinois and the American Animal Hospital Association show that ultrasound offers an immediate revenue stream for most veterinarians.

AAHA and UI Data Reveal the Profitability of Veterinary Ultrasound

The billing rate for veterinary ultrasound depends on the specific procedure performed; however, even at conservative estimates, this modality is an immediate source of income for most veterinary practices.

The AAHA analyzed data from 2015 and calculated that the average billing rates for abdominal exams are as follows:

  • $275 in urban areas
  • $231 in towns
  • $121 in rural areas

A more recent study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Veterinary Medicine, estimated that the average cost of abdominal exams in 2016-2017 is $260. This does not include revenue from other ultrasound procedures such as pregnancy exams, echocardiography, and cystocentesis.

The table below shows the number of ultrasound examinations a veterinarian would need to perform each monthto break even. The data assumes that the veterinarian purchased the ultrasound system on a 60-month payment plan with an APR of 5.79%, and the average billing rate for ultrasound at a conservative $100.

Ultrasound Cost Monthly Loan Payment Number of Monthly Procedures to Break Even
$18,000 $345 3.5
$25,000 $480 4.8
$30,000 $575 5.8

 

Ultrasound Will Open up New Revenue Streams for Your Practice

Before purchasing ultrasound equipment, many veterinarians evaluate their potential return on investment (ROI) based on the demand from current clients; however, this approach to estimating ROI is inaccurate and misleadingly low because ultrasound will open up new revenue streams to your practice.

Reduce Diagnostic Costs
It is much less expensive to diagnose an animal’s sickness using ultrasound than other imaging modalities such as CT scans and MRIs. Ultrasound also reduces the risk of complications (especially anesthetic risks), which lowers the overall cost of care.

This is especially true one you and your staff are fully trained and comfortable with your ultrasound equipment. This doesn’t happen overnight, but is equally as important as your investment in technology. Veterinarians who purchase an ultrasound system have access to instructional courses that shorten the learning curve and help DVMs capture detailed images and deliver accurate diagnoses for varying medical conditions, animals, and tissue-types

For more information on the top veterinary ultrasound education center in the nation, visit the Academy of Veterinary Imaging’s site at: http://academy.soundvet.com.

Growing your Referral Network

Once you gain the advanced technology, what is the best way to grow your business? Through referrals, both from your colleagues and your pet-owners.

Get Referrals from Affiliate DVMs
If an animal needs ultrasound and you refer the client to another DVM, then you are missing out on revenue – not to mention potential word-of-mouth referrals from that client. Ultrasound not only puts that revenue back in your pocket, but it also enables you to accept ultrasound referrals from other veterinarians.

Attract More Clients through Word-of-Mouth Referrals
Pet owners feel confident when their veterinarians use the most advanced modalities. Because ultrasound has so many applications, you will have plenty of opportunities to explain the science behind ultrasonography and its various clinical benefits. This will encourage your clients to recommend your practice to their friends, family, and colleagues.

Offer Ultrasound to Specialized Niches
Ultrasound is an essential component in zoo and marine animal care, equine care, and ruminant care. By investing in a portable ultrasound system, you can offer your services to these specialized niches.

Conclusion
Veterinary ultrasound offers an immediate revenue boost for most DVMs. Even at conservative estimates, ultrasound equipment is a smart investment. Veterinarians who offer ultrasound not only open up new revenue streams, but they also encourage client loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.