University of Florida study finds multiple benefits in offering wellness plans

Researchers from the University of Florida (UF) conducted a study to determine whether wellness plans are financially beneficial to small animal teaching hospitals. 

The results of their study indicated that wellness plans not only can provide a boost to the bottom line, but they also hold potential benefits for veterinary students and animal patients.

For the study, Amy E.S. Stone, DVM, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, and her research team reviewed invoices from select UF Primary Care and Dentistry patients. 

The researchers found that the 1,086 non-wellness plan patients in the study spent an average of $868.10 in the given time range, while 98 wellness plan patients spent an average of $1,399.20 during the same period. 

"Study wellness plan patients outspent non-wellness plan patients by $531.10 annually," study authors wrote. "This total includes additional diagnostics, procedures, preventive medication, and other services that provide better care to patients."

Using data obtained from software, study authors determined that wellness plan patients had used 57.5 percent of their plans on average based on monetary value.

Researchers were careful to note that the financial implications of their study are not easily extrapolated to other hospitals, since the UF Small Animal Hospital offers services such as advanced imaging, certain surgeries, and chemotherapy that are not available in all general practice veterinary hospitals.

In addition to the apparent financial benefits of offering wellness plans, study authors noted that veterinary students rotating through the UF Primary Care & Dentistry Service appear to further their knowledge through involvement with wellness plans.

"They (students) learn about how to establish these plans, talk to clients about our plans and how critical they are to helping us provide quality preventive care to our patients. We intend that this familiarity with wellness plans will help to guide new veterinarians in providing preventive care in small animal general practices," study authors wrote.

Study information

"Wellness Plans as a Preventive Care Education Tool for Veterinary Students"
Amy E. S. Stone, DVM, Ph.D.,; Geoffrey Landau, BS; Julia Wuerz, DVM, Wendy Mandese, DVM