Inside AAHA: April 2021

AAHA board director Mark Thompson, DVM, CCRP, weighs in on wellness plans and their importance to veterinary practices. Also in this issue: Ideas for using the AAHA publicity toolbox, a call to connect on the accredited member Facebook page, call for Practice of the Year award entries, Dear AAHA recommends resources for waiver forms, and a primer on AAHA guidelines.

View from the Board

Wellness Plans and Your Practice

VETERINARY PRACTICES HAVE ENJOYED RELATIVELY UNCHALLENGED SUCCESS in the past. However, the landscape is changing. Large retailers have entered the market, taking away prescription drug and pet food sales from practices. Traditionally, veterinarians have used these sales to subsidize services to the consumer. Because these sales are no longer present, most veterinary hospitals have needed to increase their fees for all services. The consumer will pay a higher price for their total veterinary care. However, in order to combat the sticker shock, many veterinary practices offer or participate in third-party discount plans, or wellness plans.

Veterinary practices have the opportunity to provide managed care plans that allow for payment plans to cover wellness services at low monthly costs. The practice will benefit from increased compliance with recommended services and overall increased revenue. The consumer will benefit from an interest-free payment option to provide that care. Finally, the pet will benefit from better preventive care.

Most wellness packages offer a low payment per month versus a large, onetime charge. In addition, other services can be added to the plan such as dentals, spays, neuters, and even physical therapy packages. These added services offer even more opportunities for increased revenue and compliance.

Wellness care is a big part of general practice and a critical focus for every general practitioner. Therefore, the goal of providing access to a comprehensive wellness plan should be an essential part of the veterinary business. The best wellness plans ensure the best care for pets while enabling pet owners to fit that care into their budgets.

I started offering wellness care plans about 15 years ago, trying to manage plans by myself. This involved setting up automatic payments through our bank, managing plan usage by hand, and trying low-cost marketing. In the end, my costs outweighed the benefits even though I was providing great care to my patients.

Today, I use a provider that helps train staff, sets up protocols, manages automatic payments, sets up contracts, and offers us professional marketing with a targeted approach. This service has been invaluable to our practice and has been able to empower clients to say yes to all their pets’ preventive care needs. Based on my experience, I would recommend using a service to help implement wellness plans, as struggles will be greatly reduced.

Whether you manage wellness plans independently or through a third-party service, the most important part of setting up your custom plan is to fully believe in it. Be honest with yourself about what you really recommend. The key to success is to offer your recommendations and make sure each client with a plan uses all of the benefits. Most wellness plans will automatically appeal to your “A-list” clients, so the focus in marketing should be your B- and C-list clients.

One of my main concerns of offering monthly payments for wellness plans was that it would initially increase my accounts receivable and reduce cash flow dramatically. However, not all our clients became early adopters, and the change in financials was gradual. The increased compliance for my practice allowed for no major financial issues. Wellness care plans can help a practice provide better care for patients, your business, and your clients. Therefore, plans should be considered for any practice with a strong interest in preventive health.

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson, DVM, CCRP, is a director on the AAHA Board of Directors. After growing up on a rural Wisconsin dairy farm, Thompson’s interest in science led him to the pursuit of a career in veterinary medicine. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine in 1996 and is currently working to complete a Master of Business Administration degree from Capella University. Thompson’s two-doctor practice, Country Hills Pet Hospital in Eden, Wisconsin, was an AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year Award finalist in 2016 and took top honors in 2018.

What Are AAHA Guidelines?

AAHA regularly convenes experts to develop new guidelines and update recommendations based on the latest scientific evidence for small-animal healthcare. AAHA guidelines are meant to benefit not only AAHA members and their patients and clients but the entire veterinary profession.

AAHA guidelines are:

  • Nonbiased and reviewed by experts
  • Cutting edge and clinically relevant
  • Frequently updated
  • Interactive and mobile friendly
  • Accompanied by hands-on resources (templates, calculators)

Just released!

2021 AAHA/AVMA Telehealth Guidelines for Small-Animal Practice

2021 AAHA/AAFP Feline Life Stage Guidelines


It’s Time to Renew Your AAHA Membership!

Keep your membership perks, discounts, and bragging rights. Renew by June 30.


Dear AAHA

Dear AAHA,

Our practice would like to provide clients with a liability statement that explains the risks they are taking when electing to have their pet undergo surgery such as intestinal/exploratory procedures. Does AAHA recommend any resources?

—Wondering in Wyoming

Dear Wondering,

We recommend that you seek the guidance of your legal counsel to make sure that any communication like this adheres to the law. As always, your AAHA practice consultant and accreditation specialist are also great resources. However, in this case, they would direct you to seek legal advice.

—AAHA’s Member Experience Team

Have a question you’d like AAHA to answer? Email us at dearaaha@aaha.org.


Got Team Spirit?
Show It in Your APOY Application!

This is the final month to apply for the AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year Award.
Applications are due April 30. 


April Social Media Images

AAHA members: Get social media images to post on your accounts!

  • National Heartworm Awareness Month
  • National Pet First Aid Awareness Month
  • Happy Earth Day
  • Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month
  • International Guide Dog Day

AAHA-Accredited Members
Facebook Group

Fellow AAHA members are just a “post” away!

  • Connect. Be instantly connected to other AAHA-accredited practices across the US and Canada.
  • Celebrate. Have a place to share good news about your practice and the profession.
  • Get advice. Post questions and get instant answers from other members.
  • Seek peer-to-peer support. Use the network to find resources and guidance.

Visit now and click “Join group.”

Photo credits: simonkr/E+ via Getty Images, Naked Kingv/iStock via Getty Images Plus, Yuli_ko/iStock via Getty Images Plus, 

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