The Confusion Surrounding

Preventive Care Plans

WA Veterinarian Magazine

by the CareCap team

Nov/Dec 2014

This summer over 200 veterinarians and pet owners participated in an online and in-office survey about pet preventive plans.In general we hoped to understand, “Do these plans matter to pet owners and do they have the ability to improve the health of the veterinary practice and/or pets in their care?

The survey was designed to gain insight into:

  • How familiar veterinarians and pet owners are with preventive plans.
  • How interested they might be in offering or utilizing these plans.
  • Whether respondents had any prior experience with preventive plans and, if so, were they interested in offering/utilizing plans in the future?

First, let’s take a quick look at the percentage of pet owners responding to the survey about their knowledge of, or prior familiarity with, Preventive plans.

  • 77.27% said they had no prior usage, or real understanding of preventive plans
  • 22.73% were familiar with them

Given that just over three out of four survey respondents don’t understand preventive plans, survey answers were completely influenced by each respondent’s personal interpretation of what a plan might include. One of the most significant survey findings is that education on this topic is desperately needed if Preventive plans are to make sense before veterinarians may successfully offer them to pet owners.

What we heard:
Veterinarians care deeply about providing quality pet care. In general, they all share the belief that efficacy of treatment follows a well-prescribed schedule and preventive plans have the power to encourage more predictable and aligned treatment protocols. Veterinarians focus on the quality of care provided as it relates to their ability to keep pets healthy and help them enjoy the longest, healthiest lives possible.

Pet owners, on the other hand, have a conflict between love and money. This came out in their written comments. Perhaps the best example was this pet owner who said, “I provide my pets the best care, food and love I can to make sure their lives are healthy and happy. I love them. They are my family. I live on a fixed income and my pets have better care than I do.”  This comment seems to be broadly shared. Pet owners will do everything in their power for their pets… within the limit of their financial capability.

Education has the power to bring clarity to the love or money conflict
Pet owners want to know how to best care for their pets. They want to make informed decisions about pet care. They also want to look for ways to optimize their pet’s health while reducing their monthly expenses.  Good health and wise budgeting don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, the right preventive plan might be just the answer.

Just as a pet owner wants to be able to plan for monthly pet care expenses, they also want to do whatever is in their power to reduce the number of unplanned pet care expenses they might have. Clearly today, these plans are not sufficiently understood to make a pet owner want to sign up for one.

Are veterinarians interested in closing the preventive plan understanding gap?
The question that needs to be asked and answered is do veterinarians want to spend the time and collective educational resource to teach pet owners about the benefits of preventive plans?  Would a preventive plan improve a veterinarian’s ability to help keep pets healthier and to help pet owners reduce unanticipated pet care expenses?

Veterinarian Highlights

In your opinion, would preventive plans result in pets receiving better care?

Yes
43%
Don't Know
40%
No
17%

What are the main benefits preventive plans provide for the pet care family?

Affordability
38%
Convenient payments
13%
Easy scheduled pet care
13%
Pets live longer
9%

For the complete data set, click on the button below.

Download Data

“By delving deeper into the preventive care survey results, we believe there is the ability to better understand what’s causing confusion for the pet owner and how to best resolve that confusion.”

The jury is out for veterinarians as well as pet owners
While significant education is needed for pet owners, it’s also needed by the veterinary community. It will be difficult to get pet owners to understand preventive plans if there is not a fairly broad-based agreement in the veterinary medical community on what the best practice is for these plans and how to construct, administer and offer them to their pet owners.

The verbatim survey results tell a very interesting story
By delving deeper into the preventive care survey results, we believe there is the ability to better understand what’s causing confusion for the pet owner and how to best resolve that confusion.

Just take a look at these eight verbatim responses from pet owners when asked about preventive plans:

“I would consider something like this with a new pup.”

“We used an Annual Preventive Care Plan last year, but found it too expensive and it didn’t cover visits for illness, injury, surgery, etc.”

“Vet care is expensive, I don’t want going to the vet to be a sales pitch for unnecessary work, I want them to be medical professionals who are compassionate and caring and don’t make you feel guilty if you can’t afford all they recommend.”

“Since I do not give my dog annual vaccines it would be nice to offer other services as options.”

“Might be fine for pet owners but not breeders.”

“I would do anything to ensure a happy healthy life for my pets within my means.  We try to give our pets the proper care.”

“I think these plans are a good idea.  Not sure my vet will ever offer them but I have heard favorable comments from people.”

“I love my vet. If I didn’t have so many animals, I would definitely consider the preventive care plans.”

Parting Thought
While the survey revealed a number of fascinating results on the state of the preventive care market and preventive plans, it was clear that some veterinarians are disheartened by the perceived complexity of administering these plans.  Others are skeptical that the plans will really change owner behavior in a meaningful way. However, the survey notes that a clear majority of veterinarians understand and believe in the value of preventive plans– for their business, and for the pets they look after.

Want to know the little details and the ad hoc insights this survey provides?
Download the complete survey results at http://carecap.com/preventive-plan-survey-results.

This article was prepared by the team at CareCap. CareCap streamlines and automates billing and collections, making it possible to offer inexpensive financing to clients, while decreasing your administrative overhead. They can be reached at (888) 992-8889.

Pet Owner Highlights

Are you currently using a preventive plan for your pet?

23 %
Yes

If your veterinarian began to offer preventive plans, what kinds of things would you like to see included in an annual plan?

Vaccinations
22%
Dental cleaning
16%
Blood work
9%

For the complete data set, click on the button below.

Download Data