Join Us At Our Spring Meeting! Overcoming Veterinary Behavior Obstacles in Our Patients, Our People, and Our Practices

You’re Invited To Our 2015 Spring Meeting!

Overcoming Behavior Obstacles in Our Patients, Our People, and Our Practices

Please join CVP, Ceva Animal Health and The Calico Group for an entertaining and enlightening day on the impact of behavior on our day-to-day practice lives.  In what promises to be outstanding event, we’ll review and discuss the importance of the many interactions between all parties in the doctor-patient-client relationship. The day will be a unique mix of clinical, practical, and management concepts and provide attendees pragmatic ideas for tackling common problems.

In addition to a fantastic line up of speakers and topics, enjoy the day in one of the most unique venues in our area, meet some of the staff of the Elmwood Park Zoo and get a one-of-a kind view of one of the area’s most popular family attractions

Event Details:

Sunday, May 17th, 2015
9 am to 3:30 PM

Elmwood Park Zoo
Canopy Gardens Hall
1661 Harding Blvd
Norristown, PA 19401

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Please RSVP to your local Ceva Territory Manager or to Dr. Travis Meredith at travis.meredith@cvpco.com


Implementing Veterinary Acupuncture in General Practice

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Written By: Emily L. Elliot VMD. Chippens Hill Veterinary Hospital

While a veterinarian is learning veterinary acupuncture, offering treatments to pets belonging to staff members gives both the veterinarian and the staff member confidence in the treatment and the results.  Once certified, the clinician offers treatment to clients’ pets, and it is easy for the staff members and colleagues to endorse the modality they have seen achieve results.  In the typical case load of general practice, there is ample opportunity to treat epileptics and geriatric pets with degenerative joint disease, for example, in conjunction with medication and nutritional supplements.  Acupuncture is particularly beneficial for animals who have impaired hepatic and renal function for metabolizing medication, since acupuncture gives them pain relief that allows the owner to give fewer drugs.

Typically, animals come to the clinic weekly for initial treatments, which are later scheduled less often once the animal is stable.  Typical chronic conditions need a monthly maintenance treatment, which allows practical monitoring of the animal’s weight, body condition, and blood work.  The other benefit of acupuncture in general practice is the opportunity to communicate with the client.  While the animal’s acupuncture needles are in place for 10-20 minutes, the veterinarian and the technician have time to educate the client in disease management, and give the client tremendous confidence in the care and concern the office has for customizing the care of the individual animal.

Acupuncture further maximizes the veterinarian’s time, since once the clinician gets a progress report, evaluates the patient, and places the needles with the technician holding the animal and talking with the owner, the veterinarian can move on to another exam room to see another patient, returning to the acupuncture patient in 10-20 minutes to remove the needles and schedule the next visit.  Record keeping for acupuncture is straightforward, and fees can vary with demographics but should reflect the investment in time and training required to learn the skill, and the time of the technician assisting with the treatment.  Once skilled, veterinarians can reach out to individual colleagues or present talks at local veterinary associations to explain the benefits of acupuncture for referral cases.  Establish a consultation fee for referred clients at their first visit in addition to the fee for acupuncture.  Of course, respect for the referral relationship gives colleagues trust so that they continue to send cases for acupuncture treatment.

In the third installment in this series, I will compare acupuncture and laser therapy.

Emily L. Elliot, VMD


The Top 8 Things Your Veterinary Practice Must Do To Thrive In The Future

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Written By: Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM

It’s a new world out there in veterinary medicine and the things that were enough to guarantee practice success twenty years ago aren’t the same now.  While there are many things practices need to focus on, the following are some of the most important.

1: Practice Good Quality Medicine

This one goes without saying but, unfortunately, it’s often not enough to insure practice success. Unless you amputate the wrong leg, clients can’t judge the quality of the medicine you practice. They judge veterinary hospitals by things they can understand-generally communication and client service. You can be the best doctor in the state, but if clients don’t feel they got value for the dollars spent in a way they understand, they won’t come back. 

2: Back to Basics

Wowing clients is great but it’s more important to make sure their basic needs are met.  If the owner of an itchy dog comes to a practice, is 45 minutes late being seen, doesn’t understand what the doctor is saying is the cause of the itching, and doesn’t get the promised call back the next day, sending the dog home with a cute bandana won’t make up for it.

3: Know What Your Clients Want

There’s lots of information out there about “what clients want.”  Much of it is very valid and applies to most clients of most practices.  But it’s critical that you regularly gather information about what YOUR clients want and how happy they are with your practice.    The best way to do this is to regularly ask clients about their experience with your practice via regular client surveys.  However, you can also gather this vital information by:  welcoming client complaints and making things right, reviewing record transfers and tracking client complaints to identify any patterns and whether or not changes in the practice are reducing the complaints.

4: Offer Payment Options

 The price of veterinary care continues to be an issue for many pet owners.  They want to provide the best care but are struggling with many demands on their money.  We know that payment options make a difference—multiple studies have shown that clients who have pet insurance or a third party veterinary credit card or are enrolled in a wellness plan visit the veterinary practice more frequently and spend more money on veterinary services.  Understanding the options yourself and educating clients makes a big difference in how pet owners take care of their pets and how well your practice does.

5: Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

 Look at your practice from the client’s perspective.  When you discourage a client from visiting their pet during its two night stay at your practice, how does the client feel?  The pet owner knows that when their human family members are in the hospital, it’s a different story—they can visit regularly.  They want to do the same with their furry family members—they want to be able to see that their pet is being well-taken care of and they want to reassure their pet that he/she hasn’t been abandoned.  What do you think my cousin thought when she picked up her cat following surgery and the technician said:  “We gave him some food this morning but he wouldn’t eat.  It might be because of the e-collar. Take that off when he gets home and see if that makes a difference?”  What she thought was:  “I just spent $3000 at this place and they’re starving my cat!”

6: Give Clients the Information They Want

A recent study looked at the top 5 health topics pet owners wanted to talk to their veterinarians about and the top 5 health topics veterinarians wanted to talk to pet owners about—only 1 topic was the same on both lists!  This doesn’t mean that the practice team should ignore the issues they think are important when talking with clients but it does mean they need to make sure client questions and concerns are addressed as well.  The simplest way to do this is to ASK: ·        

– Is there anything else going on with Fluffy that we haven’t covered?

– Is there anything else going on with Fluffy that we haven’t covered?

– Did you have any questions about what we have discussed?

– Do you have any other concerns?

– Are there any other questions you have?

– Can I do anything else for you?

7: Make Clear Recommendations

If you say:  “At some point you might want to get this dental done,”  the client’s not going to do it—a dental just doesn’t sound like something truly important to the health of the pet.  But if you say:  “Fluffy needs a to have her teeth cleaned and polished” or “I recommend that Fluffy have her teeth cleaned and polished” or “It is critical that Fluffy have her teeth cleaned and polished”, then the pet owner will pay attention.  The specific words are less important than the clarity of the statement you make.  According to one study, pet owners are 7 times more likely to follow their veterinarians’ recommendation when it is clear and unambiguous.

8: Get Help When You Need It

Veterinarians are great at practicing medicine; they are usually not great at preparing tax returns, writing legal documents or investing for retirement.  We advise our clients to see a specialist when it’s warranted; we should do the same.  There are many attorneys, CPAs, consultants, financial planners, lenders, architects, brokers and business appraisers who work exclusively with veterinary practices and veterinarians and can help you achieve the success you are looking for.


Aston Veterinary Hospital Is Hiring A Groomer!

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We’re Looking For An Experienced Groomer!

Our partner hospital, Aston Veterinary Hospital, is seeking an experienced professional groomer to join their team. Aston offers a great environment, team and a flexible schedule. If you or someone you know is interested, please call Karen Moyer at 610-494-5800! http://www.astonvet.com/


CVP Partner Hospital, Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, Proudly Helps The Wildlife of Bergen County

Last year alone, our partner hospital, Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, cared for over 1,300 sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. They are the only CVP Partner Hospital who is able to care for wildlife. The wildlife they provide veterinary care for ranges from tiny birds to deer and even hawks. With no one else in the area to care for wildlife, they have partnered with Animal Friends of Franklin Lakes (AFFL) a full-fledged tax-exempt charity to provide this much needed veterinary care. AFFl works hard to procure funds and supplies to pay for the needs of all the wildlife brought into Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital.  Last summer, AFFL was even able to help fund the salaries for two full-time college students to assist with the wildlife feeding and care at our hospital.

Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital and Community Veterinary Partners are proud to support the wildlife in Bergen County, New Jersey and will continue to work with Animal Friends of Franklin Lakes to help our furry friends. To learn more visit http://www.franklinlakesanimalhospital.com/animal-friends-of-franklin-lakes or http://www.animalfriendsoffranklinlakes.org/ . Also, check out some photos of wildlife at FLAH below!

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Dr. Alan Pomerantz With A Fawn
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A Baby Raccoon! Look How Small!
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A Baby Raccoon Sleeping
Dr. Viktoriya Zilberman With A Fawn
A Baby Owl
A Baby Owl!

10 Tips For Creating A Happy Workplace At Your Animal Hospital: Part 2

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By Dennis McMichael, Practice Manager — Animal Hospital of Dauphin County

Previously, I took you through my first top 5 tips for a happy workplace. Here are my remaining top factors that I consider to be the most impactful in cracking open your workplace Zen (as a team). 

6. Set Goals (as a team): In professional sports a team’s shared goals are apparent and understood.  Moreover, the teams’ success towards those goals is blatantly, and sometimes brutally obvious (Go Phillies! Go Eagles!).  In the common workplace neither of these statements holds true; however, each member of the team plays just as much of a role in achieving the team’s shared goals.  As such the team’s involvement in understanding challenges, creating shared goals, monitoring progress, and managing their shared goals to success is paramount in fostering happiness and success.  Beyond that the involvement of fresh minds in the process will lead to new ideas and the discovery of untapped talents.

7. Create Happy Customers (as a team): The customer is always right because if the customer is wrong, your competition is happy to make it right!   Too often a disconnect occurs in considering customers as the primary resource for achieving success toward the team’s shared goals.  By assuming the role of a customer advocate, team members align and accomplish the customer’s goals, the team’s goals, and their individual goals while creating happy customers in the process.  And the happiest teams are teams working with happy customers!

8. Make It Personal (as a team): When was the last time you stopped a staff meeting and played a fun, interactive game? The gains realized are well worth the small amount of time sacrificed from the team’s everyday routine.  Team members connecting on a personal level greatly increases the probability of greater cohesiveness at the professional level.  Additionally, a little bit of camaraderie goes a long way in strengthening staff retention and creating more natural and enjoyable customer interactions.   At times, the most effective thing a team leader can do is create an opportunity for the team to interact freely without the constraints and distractions of the job obstructing the team’s ability to develop their relationships and identity.

9. Recognize Contributions (as a team): Teams and their individual members contribute their talents every day; however, only the largest accomplishments are consistently celebrated with any sort of fanfare.  “Great job making that copy, Mary!” and “You really nailed sweeping that floor, Joe!” are examples of praises very rarely uttered in the workplace.  But why not?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with recognizing another team member’s contributions to the overall success of the team’s shared goals.  In fact, offering such praise will play a crucial role in creating a happy team and an environment conducive to productive communication.

10. Love What You Do (as a team): On average we spend 45% of our waking hours at work or performing work-related functions.  That is way too much time to not derive some enjoyment from our jobs and our teams.  It is always a useful exercise for each team member to reflect on their position and identify the functions, responsibilities, and accomplishments that make them most content in their role.  Likewise, it is just as worthwhile to examine the less enjoyable tasks and look for ways to make them more enticing for the team member.  Even if the end result is the same, the exercise itself will help increase contentedness with the individual.  In the end, when we love what we do it shows.  And the effects are contagious to team members and customers alike!

A happy workplace requires an appropriate mix of all the ingredients to get it just right.  Similarly, different teams will have different mixes for what’s right for them; however, the ingredients will all still be there.  And the best part is that once your mix is established the workplace will become a lot of fun!


10 Tips for Creating a Happy Workplace At Your Animal Hospital: Part 1

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By Dennis McMichael, Practice Manager — Animal Hospital of Dauphin County

Throughout my youth and professional career I’ve had the pleasure of serving on and leading many teams with a variety of purposes and goals.  In each instance a number of consistent factors contributed to each team’s success, failure, and, ultimately, happiness.  And in each instance the team’s happiness could be directly attributed to our performance and application of those factors as a team.  While it would be nearly impossible to list all of the factors contributing to a happy team and workplace, the following list captures the top factors that I consider to be the most consistently impactful in cracking open your workplace Zen (as a team).

1. Be Humble (as a team): We all have faults.  The sooner we are able to acknowledge and accept this fact, the sooner we move past reactive and guarded habits and progress towards becoming proactive producers.  Some of the best people to have on your team are the ones who ask a lot of questions and force the team to rethink what they thought they already knew.  Leaders are no exception to this trait — as a matter of fact, leaders stand to gain even more from their own humbleness by forging important relationships and better understanding the resources available to them.

2. Communicate (as a team): Every success and failure begins and ends with productive communication or a lack thereof.  It is as simple as that, yet, we continually fall into the traps created by lack of communication or even unproductive communication.  A successful and happy team’s habitual response to unexpected adversity is productive communication.  This often takes the form of a 5 minute “huddle” to discuss the issue at hand, identify resources and possible solutions, and plot the path to success.  As humans contentedness is equivalent to happiness.  Internalized stress is commonly one of the largest barriers to contentedness.  The habitual response of productive communication and group problem solving eliminates this barrier before it even has a chance to take shape.

3. Create a Culture of Solutions (as a team): How much of your team’s time is lost to idle complaints?  Beyond time, what is the impact of idle complaining on individual and team morale?  Many people complain simply because it requires less effort than solving the problem in the first place; however, this is where the power of the team really comes to life.  If the team publicly recognizes their distaste for idle complaining, the team can successfully outlaw the behavior from the workplace and replace it with an expectation of productive communication.  Much like Planet Fitness’ “Lunk Alarm” combats “gymtimidation”, a staff unified towards productive communication is empowered to recognize and refuse idle complaining in a more comfortable manner that encourages productive solutions and a happy workplace.

4. Celebrate Your Successes (as a team): The ever-increasing demand for efficiency is at odds with the need for workplace happiness.  How many times have you thought “That was really a great accomplishment and it needs to be recognized when time allows.”?  Did you do it?  Did you do it publicly?  Celebrating successes boosts morale while providing a positive reinforcement of the team’s shared goals.  Additionally, creating a ‘shout out’-friendly environment can do wonders in promoting individual and team senses of self-worth.  These gestures are a catalyst for kindness.  No, the team doesn’t need to spend the entire day patting each other on the back.  Staff meetings, internal newsletters, group emails, suggestion boxes, bulletin boards, etc. can all serve as appropriate forums to share the love!

5. Own Your Mistakes (as a team): So you made a mistake — now what?  Human nature and tradition seem to tell us to shy away and let someone else fix it but where’s the growth in that?  Recognize the opportunity and turn the situation on its head.  The team and/or team member stand to gain valuable knowledge and insight by assessing the situation and envisioning a reasonable solution.  Furthermore, what could have been a confidence-draining experience can — if handled properly — become a confidence-building morale booster.  Finally, is there a lesson learned that can be used to benefit team members not specifically involved with this opportunity?  Make sure that teachable moment is appropriately shared and utilized!

Check back for Part 2 and my remaining 5 tips for a happy workplace!


Should Your Veterinary Hospital Offer Acupuncture Services?

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Written By: Emily L. Elliot VMD. Chippens Hill Veterinary Hospital

Acupuncture is a growing part of veterinary practices today and many pet owners are turning to this method of treatment for their pets. There are several reasons to consider adding acupuncture to your list of services at your veterinary hospital.

Veterinary acupuncture offers management for pain, seizures, immune support, and gastrointestinal therapy that can be used in addition to medical and surgical treatment and sometimes even instead of it.  Animals respond well to acupuncture and there is no placebo effect for them, though it is important to guide their owners through objective evaluation of response to therapy.  Veterinary acupuncture cannot be bought on the Internet and it increases client visits to the hospital.  The overhead in acupuncture supplies is minimal after the initial investments of time and education.

Education in acupuncture takes place usually in four sessions of four days each over about a year and can be found in a variety of locations and institutions around the country.   Beyond the basic education, certification by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, IVAS, provides credibility via requirements for education, examination, mentorship, a case log, and a peer-reviewed case report.  A veterinarian learning acupuncture makes a significant commitment in time and study of this centuries old medicine.

Once a veterinarian is qualified to offer acupuncture in practice, the support of staff and colleagues comes easily since the animals’ response to treatment gives visual results.  Internal referrals of existing cases in the hospital build the use of acupuncture quickly.  Animals with chronic conditions such as degenerative joint disease, intervertebral disc disease, and epilepsy do well with treatment and generally need long-term maintenance.  Acute cases needing short-term treatment include animals undergoing dental procedures, hospitalized patients with refractory vomiting or diarrhea, and post-op surgical patients.  All have better pain management and faster healing with acupuncture as part of their care.

In the next two installments in this series, I will compare acupuncture with laser therapy and discuss implementing acupuncture in general practice.


Measuring Performance At Your Veterinary Hospital-Recognizing Trends And Avoiding Potential Problems

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Written By: Travis Meredith DVM, MBA, DIP. ACT- Community Veterinary Partners; Director of Member Services

In spending time with many successful practice owners, I always find it interesting to learn how each tracks the performance of his or her veterinary hospital. Some veterinary practice owners have a very sales oriented approach to tracking current and future success while others feel that they are able to trust their gut by looking at the volume in their waiting room. One thing I realized is that there is no one metric that everyone follows to measure practice performance.

How is it possible that various successful veterinary practices I know can be so successful yet track their performance so differently? In my opinion, the answer lies in looking and listening to your practice’s performance and the frequency that the “diagnostics” are run.

I was given the opportunity to leave hospital ownership to run a business unit for a major animal health company where I was mentored by one of the biggest data nerds I’ve ever met. Each morning he made it a habit to do a 30-minute review of the previous day so he always knew what parts of the business were going well, what areas were in trouble, and where potential problems may arise. In doing this, he was able to focus his energy on potential problems before they became actual problems. In following just a few key metrics each day, he taught me how to stay ahead of potential problems that may arise.

When I returned to managing veterinary hospitals, I took the simple tricks I learned with me.  In looking at each practice type, I made sure to check for a few key metrics and just like the veterinary practice owners who run leading indicators or who reads the volume in the hospital waiting room; I followed those metrics every day.  Over time, this gave me the ability to gain a true pulse of each practice.  I was able to identified negative trends sooner, understand staffing issues more clearly, and be proactive to avoid potential problems and do things that make the practice more valuable.

Something to think about after reading this. Every morning when you arrive at your veterinary hospital you usually spend time evaluating each client and pet that is in the waiting room.  It’s important to show the same dedication to your business each day by taking 20 to 30 minutes to follow the key metrics for your practice.


CVP Member Network Shows Q3 Revenue Improvement in 2014

Each fiscal quarter we ask our Member Network hospitals to share their financial results with us. We then pull the data together and produce a benchmarking report. Benchmarking is a great way to see how your hospital is performing compared to your peers.

For the third quarter of 2014 (from June through September), our Member Network hospitals showed a strong recovery from a slow first half of 2014 Of the 25 hospitals in our group, 14 reported growth vs. the prior year. Across the network, the median change in revenue was 4 percent vs. Q3 2013 and ranged between -13% and +13% (for non-startup veterinary practices.)

Q3 Member Network Revenue Chart