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5 Ways DSRs Can Help Veterinary Clinics Prepare for Top Visit Reasons

By Pam Foster
June, 2017

In April 2017, the pet insurance company PetPlan published an article listing the most expensive pet injuries/ailments by month of the year, based on insurance claims. Let’s take a look at this intriguing and somewhat surprising list of the top pet-care reasons (expense-wise) each month: Vet Advantage image: PetPlan infographic showing the most expensive veterinary visits for injuries and ailments, by month, based on claims.

  • January: Cruciate injuries $3,569
  • February: Periodontal disease $907 (February dental health month apparently prompts more pet owners to bring in pets for oral exams and care.)
  • March: Intervertebral disc disease $2,127
  • April: Foreign body ingestion $1,872
  • May: Bite wounds $947
  • June: Cancer $3,058
  • July: Fractures $1,175
  • August: Cardiac disease $1,343
  • September: Pancreatic disease $1,524
  • October: Ear infections $407
  • November: GI disease $938 (This makes sense since we know that each year, too many pets are given access to Thanksgiving food)
  • December: Allergies $787

Elyse Donnarumma, Petplan’s Veterinary Manager, said in the article, “While we might expect GI disease during Thanksgiving month, we don’t necessarily know why intervertebral disc disease occurred most frequently in March, and didn’t expect that December would be a big month for allergies. It’s a good reminder of how unpredictable pet health can be and the importance of being ready for anything.”

Think about that last comment for a moment: “The importance of being ready for anything.”

Are the practices in your sales territory ready for anything at any time?

You may want to discuss this question with doctors, owners, and practice managers during your upcoming clinic visits.


Well, if PetPlan (and perhaps other pet insurance companies) are seeing these high-cost visits throughout the year in unexpected ways, practices can’t make assumptions about “seasonal-only” occurrences.

Take allergies, for example. One would expect that the prime time for allergy visits is spring through fall, and practices may be stocking for (and promoting) allergy care products only at that time. But the PetPlan data listed December as its top allergy month. Go figure!

And what about cruciate injuries in January? Or ear infections in October?

There really is no immediate logic to some of these visit-reason findings. It behooves all of us to be prepared for any patient problem, any time of the year.

Here are five ways you can help practices prepare for anything, all year long, through your role as a DSR (Distribution Sales Representative):

  1. Show every practice the PetPlan infographic.
    You’ll find it at Consider that they may not have seen it yet… so you’ll be introducing a compelling list for them to think about.
  1. Discuss the information in the list (the ailments, injuries, costs, and times of year).
    Ask your practice contact how this list may compare to what the clinic’s own visit records look like over the course of a year. This single question could spark revelations about the practice’s monthly visits… to see what trends the practice is seeing.

    Do their visits match up with the PetPlan list? Or are they completely different? Has the practice ever looked at this type of data for their own monthly visit trends?

    Help the practice team discover their trends along these lines, so you can move to the next step. 
  1. Look at the average costs for each type of ailment/injury listed in the PetPlan list.
    Ask the practice, “Are these costs in line with what you’re charging for each type of care? Get specific by asking, for instance, “What’s your normal charge for cruciate injury care?”

    This may prompt a conversation about opportunities to adjust fees and boost revenue for the practice. Your customers will appreciate this line of thinking.
  1. Look at each ailment and injury category on the list, and ask, “Are you prepared?”
    Go through the list and ask about the practice’s ability to manage each type of visit, pinpointing the practice’s readiness with:
  • Protocols: Does the team have a clear protocol for each of these issues?
  • Skills: Is the staff knowledgeable about handling these issues? Are there any training gaps? Where can the team get training… and how quickly?
  • Equipment: What equipment does the practice have to manage these cases? What is the age of the equipment? Is it working efficiently, with the latest enhancements for advanced insights and care?
  • Other tools and solutions: What does the practice use now for diagnoses, treatment, prevention, client education, and optimal outcomes in general?
  • Communication: Does the practice currently let clients and other local pet owners know that THEIR practice is the place to bring their pets for these different issues? For instance, is the practice promoting its dental suites, surgical excellence, allergy expertise, etc.? How is the practice marketing their services along these lines?
  1. Identify opportunities for you to help them be the best resource in their community.
    Now that you may have uncovered all kinds of gaps in their readiness for these issues… you can offer solutions that quickly help each practice fill those gaps. You can help by presenting:
  • Enhanced protocols following industry best-practices (look to product manufacturers and industry resources such as AAHA for excellent protocols)
  • Skill-training opportunities – either through product manufacturers or at upcoming conferences
  • Equipment advancements, such as new laser-surgery innovations, laparoscopic instruments for foreign-object discovery, digital imaging equipment, and so forth
  • New tools and solutions (medications, diagnostics, etc.) that offer increased efficiency and medical outcomes… as well as the latest client-education materials and online systems to make more of an impact with pet owners
  • Better marketing ideas to help practices get the word out on their exceptional services

As a DSR, you can use this PetPlan information during clinic visits to bring attention to those top visits, discuss care opportunities, and provide the best solutions.

Let us know what you think of these suggestions or if you’re already using the infographic to spark clinic conversations.

Topics: Rep to Vet Communication