New reminder program to veterinary practices that re-engages inactive clients and delivers the benefits of preventive healthcare
The results of Partners for Healthy Pets’ (PHP) new inactive client reminder program is music to the veterinary profession’s ears—it has convincingly demonstrated the program’s ability to re-engage inactive clients with their veterinary practices. Within six months of implementing the reminder program, participating veterinary practices:
Generated an average of 128 patient visits, from formerly inactive clients.
Had an overall 8.5 percent inactive-client response rate (the percentage of clients who responded to the email and brought their pets in for an appointment), which is considered high by overall industry standards.
Showed overall outstanding results with cat owners, owners of senior pets and long-term inactive owners.
Generated an average of $20,574 in revenue per practice from the targeted population of previously inactive clients.
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, all of these pets are now receiving the preventive healthcare that is so crucial to their wellbeing.
Driven by a mission to ensure pets receive the preventive healthcare they deserve through regular visits to a veterinarian, PHP designed a reminder program that addressed the need for bringing inactive clients back to veterinary practices since inactive clients are becoming increasingly common and their pets are not receiving essential preventive healthcare.
“Most practices have many more inactive clients than they realize and that means many pets are not getting the preventive healthcare they need and deserve,” said Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, Chief Executive Officer of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), who announced the study findings in Music City during the Accredited Practice Breakfast at the annual AAHA conference. “The program confirmed that a sizeable population of previously inactive patients could be reconnected to their practices to begin receiving important services needed for optimum health and wellbeing,” said Dr. Cavanaugh. PHP has now released the materials from this program free of charge online at www.partnersforhealthypets.org. They have been designed so they can be used with a variety of practice management software systems or by general-use email servers.
The Overture: PHP study shows overall outstanding results and impressive responses with cat owners, owners of senior pets and long-term inactive owners
PHP partnered with Vetstreet, a leading provider of integrated veterinary marketing solutions, and during 2015-16, 1,612 practices enrolled in PHP’s newly developed inactive client re-engagement program. Utilizing the PHP program materials, those practices generated an average of 128 patient visits, from formerly inactive clients, within six months of implementation, which is “an impressive response from a previously lost client population,” said Dr. Cavanaugh.
Owners of older pets are relatively less likely to take their dog or cat to a veterinarian for regular healthcare exams. “This is a concern because senior dogs and cats are the pet population at greatest risk of developing chronic and degenerative diseases that result in a decrease in quality of life,” said Dr. Janice Trumpeter, Co-Chair of PHP and Deputy Chief Executive Director of AAHA. An encouraging result of the PHP client reminder program was a strong response by owners of senior dogs and cats. 45 percent of responding patients in the study were dogs and cats age 7 or older.
In addition, most veterinarians would acknowledge that it is a greater challenge to get cats in for regular annual exams than dogs. But, “what was rewarding was that there was actually a slightly better response from cat owners than dog owners,” said Dr. David Granstrom, Co-Chair of PHP and Assistant Executive Vice President of AVMA. “Therefore our assumption is cat owners really related to this unique message in the program and it prompted more cat owners than dog owners to come back to their veterinary practices even after a lengthy absentee period.”
The results also showed veterinarians should not be deterred from sending reminder messages based on the length of time a client has been inactive, nor should they assume that clients who have been absent for several years would not respond to the practice’s outreach. Within the first two months of enrollment, 38 percent of patients that re-engaged with practices had been absent for over two years, including many patients that were absent for over three years.
Singing a new tune: All reminder programs are not created equal
The success of the PHP program is based on two major features that set it apart from other typical reminder programs. First, is the criteria upon which the patients are targeted for communication. The PHP program is based on the client’s visitation history, not a timetable for a specific service (e.g. rabies vaccination). The program asks practices to identify pet owners who had been inactive for a specific time period. For example, practices can target those pet owners who had been absent from the practice for 14 months or longer.
Second, the message that is communicated to the pet owner is unique. “A service-specific reminder, such as a reminder for a pet’s heartworm testing, is not the most persuasive message because it doesn’t focus on the relationship between the pet, the owner, and the veterinary practice,” said Dr. Granstrom. Instead of service-specific reminders, the PHP reminder program consists of an empathetic message that emphasizes three compelling points:
Recognition that pet owners want to provide great care for their pets but they often have busy lives, making it difficult for them to bring their pets in for regular exams.
Sincere concern from the practice for their pets’ health by emphasizing the importance of regular checkups.
A pet’s annual exam is as important as food and love.
“The PHP message focuses on the bond between the pet and its owner and it conveys that the practice’s primary motivation is not on delivery of specific services at specified times, but on the wellbeing of its patients,” said Dr. Trumpeter. She adds, “This message is consistent with the culture in most veterinary practices.”
Hitting the high note: Using PHP’s inactive client reminder messages in veterinary practice
The professionally produced resources used in the PHP inactive client reminder program feature PHP’s “spokes dog”, Henley and “spokes cat”, Oz and are available to veterinary practices at no cost on the PHP website, www.partnersforhealthypets.org. Practices should go to the PHP website’s Resources Toolbox link to find complete program details and access to the free reminder message resources.
A rousing showcase: White paper publication
The results of the PHP inactive client reminder program have been published as a white paper titled, “A new reminder program available to veterinary practices that re-engages inactive clients and delivers the benefits of preventive healthcare.” It has been published in the April issue of the AAHA magazine, Trends. It will also be available to view online at www.partnersforhealthypets.org.