An Expansion of Veterinary Services
Veterinary medicine has exploded over the last couple decades with new technology and expanded specialty services, all geared to providing premium services to our animal companions. As medical breakthrough are advancing in human medicine and extending quality living, pet owners are demanding that these services be carried over to the modern animal hospital. Gone are the days where a general practitioner handled all or most of your pet’s needs. Now, the average pet owner has access to specialists for surgery, neurology, ophthalmology, reproduction, oncology, and more. A single pet, with multiple medical issues can be seen to by a team of doctors. That is if the owner is willing to travel and is financially able to cover the cost. Here is where the conflict comes in.
Keeping up with the Needs of Our Patients in the Modern Animal Hospital
Pet owners want (no, are demanding and rightly so) the best care possible for their animals. The average veterinary practice is aware of this and responds by keeping up to date on the most current treatments and equipment available to meet their clients’ expectations.
A new anesthetic monitoring machine that can monitor heart rate and rhythm, oxygen saturation and blood pressure. How about the latest in nerve blocks so that your pet’s dental extractions are less painful and have a smoother recovery? Top it off with the newest dental sealant and your pet is good to go. Then there is the cooling system that we use on our orthopedic patients to reduce swelling and pain postoperatively. We can help our patients recover from a cruciate procedure with equipment that is similar to what people are using in the human world of medicine. Let’s not forget our state of the art lab machines that can give important blood results in minutes ( no waiting those couple of days for the results to come back from an outside lab). For critical patients, a doctor can send an EKG over the phone and get a cardiac consult while you wait.
As pet owners, we want the best and we want it now or else we will look for another hospital that can meet out expectations. This is not a bad thing, right? After all, we just want to see our dog or cat be happy and pain free, healthy and disease free. So what is the trade off for all of these expanded services, both in the general practice and specialty field? The cost!
The Trade Off of Modern Technology and Services with Cost
At our animal hospital, it seems that we field cost concerns and frustrations on a daily basis. Yes, we have many of these wonderful services available for your companion. In order to have them, there has to be a cost exchange somewhere. This is the hard reality that we are faced with as service providers and clients that are in need of those services. It is especially hard for us as veterinary professionals to be able to provide a life saving or medically necessary procedure and then get hit with the “you’re only in it for the money” or ” these services are overpriced” comment when it comes time to collect the fee. It is such a quandary- do we invest in the future with products and equipment and hope that our clients will appreciate the benefit that comes with the cost or do we stay as we are, keep fees a low as possible, and hope that our clients don’t mind the older technology and reduced care options? It’s a tricky road to modern health care on a realistic budget.
So what do we so as a hospital? Well, our hospital team of staff and doctors try to listen to our clients and really hear what they are looking for in patient care for their pets. As new technology and procedures come out, we tend to wait and evaluate for a while before making any decisions. Bringing new equipment or services into the hospital will eventually be translated into an increased cost somewhere. It is our hope, that as we improve our products and procedures, our clients will realize their added value and understand why a price may increase.
Navigating a Tricky Road Together
Without a doubt, the financial burden of veterinary care has increased substantially, especially when compared to a decade ago or a single generation ago. Our animal companions are members of our family and we expect a certain level of care for them. With this elevated level of animal care, comes an elevated price to match. Please remember (or at least try to understand) that with more services available there will be a trade off in overall cost to you as a pet owner. With good communication and open dialog, veterinary professionals and pet owners can, hopefully, find some middle ground where a patient’s needs are met at a price that can be managed. There is no villain in this story, just two sides ( a service provider and an companion animal family) who are trying to navigate the tricky road of veterinary medicine in the world of the modern animal hospital.