The human medical field calls it “Concierge medicine”, “boutique medicine” ,” executive health”, “VIP”, “platinum services”, “signature”, “medallion”. In Veterinary Medicine, we call it customer service. In a nutshell, human physicians are deciding to get out of the Insurance rat race that forces them to triple book and spend only 7 minutes with each patient. Many are deciding to spend quality time with their patients, examining all their body parts, discussing not just the complaint of the day, but wellness, nutrition, exercise, behavioral concerns, and quality of life. They are trimming their patient bases down from 2500 patients to 500 to allow the personalized attention, comprehensive screening and customized health plans they want to provide. Many advertise in-office blood draws and lab testing and rapid turn around times of lab results. In order to still make the salaries they want, though, physicians have to compaensate for fewer patients by charging all the remaining patients a “retainer” or service priviledge fee of anywhere from $1500 – $5000 a year. Mind you, that only gets you the above services. Patients still have to pay thier office visit co-pays and submit to their insurance companies for any testing/ treatments performed.
I find it amusing that we, at Cimarron Animal Hosptial ,provide all these services Everyday, to Every patient! At Cimarron Animal Hospital, we schedule most patients 20 minutes of Doctor time. The Doctor performs a comprehensive exam on every pet, regardless of the complaint. (When was the last time a physician looked in your ears when you went in complaining of a hang nail?) The Doctor discusses diet, exercise, weight management, and behavior issues as they apply. Our veterinarians consider the whole pet, performing a lifestyle risk assessment and providing an Individualized Medical Plan for every patient! We provide a VIP waiting room– sodas and water for the people, water and treats for the pets! That’s part of the service every day, for everyone– no extra charge! Our goal is to return every client phone call before the end of the work day. The Doctor or Nurse will call you about lab results, treatment plans, etc. Our after hours calls are taken by a Veterinary Emergency Service– you talk directly to skilled veterinary staff 24 hours a day! Your pet gets blood and urine samples collected and many tests run right in the office! Test results are usually available in 10 minutes to 24- 72 hours (not weeks from now)! That’s just part of our Great Client Service!
Can you imagine if vets started charging clients $1500/ year for the first pet ($1000/ additional pets) just to do what we do every day? Wow!
Our physician couterparts think it’s a special service to advertise that they ” are always learning about the latest innovations in healthcare that enables us to detect diseases at their earliest stage.” That’s what veterinarians have been doing forever!
At least human physicians are learning what veterinarians have always practiced– good customer service makes customers happy. Too bad they think we should be so beholden to them that they feel they should be paid $1500 or more a year for what veterinarians do for the cost of an office call! (Or, maybe we vets ought to wise up and start charging for the priviledge of personal service?!? Good grief, what would the world come to?!?)