Ever the explorers, we used our latest omnibus study of n=200 companion animal vets (October 2015) to ask a very important question – if vets had a crystal ball and could see 5 years into the future, what changes would they think veterinary practices and the profession in general would have undergone?
While 10% thought there would be no change to the status quo and a further 12% could not think of anything, 78% of those surveyed gave us their top-of-mind thoughts, generally giving 1-2 answers each.
The change that was top-of-mind for the largest proportion of vets (38%) related to the type and structure of practices that they anticipated would be around in 2020:
- 1 in 5 vets thought that there would be a decline in independent practices and an increase in corporate owned practices and franchises
- A similar proportion of vets thought that there would be a reduction in general practices and an increase in more specialised clinics offering a higher standard of care – “More comparable to that offered to humans.”
Aligned with this potentially increasing ‘corporatisation’ of the sector, an increase in the range of products sold online and in non-veterinary channels was top-of-mind for 14% of vets, potentially eroding their profit margins still further.
Changes in treatment options available were top-of-mind for a fifth of vets:
- 12% stated that the types of pharmaceutical products available would change – with longer-lasting options and all-in-one formats seeing an increase in line with our increasingly convenience-driven society. A small number of vets gave us their specific product wish list, including tick treatments for cats and a tick paralysis vaccine
- 8% thought that the focus would shift further from treatment to prevention with an increase in wellness care. While this is a positive sentiment, it is unlikely that this would be a widespread shift. Our veterinary challenges piece launched late last year found that many vets are currently feeling the economic ‘pinch’, with an increasingly cost-conscious client-base choosing to seek advice from non-veterinary channels and increasingly struggling to afford the cost of treatment. Clearly this shift will depend upon the relative wealth of the catchment area each practice serves.
These trends broadly align with the broader trends we are seeing in other industry sectors, where more holistically-focused healthcare and a greater tailoring of experiences to the individual are seen, as well as a drive to greater simplicity and convenience.
While seemingly intrinsically linked to thoughts about the future, technological advancement, both in terms of treatment options and in facilitating consultations was top-of-mind for only 13% of vets surveyed. The issues that are most commonly top-of-mind align with the current challenges they are facing in their practices.
One thing that is certain is that technology will continue to evolve and have an ever greater role in underpinning our daily lives and activities. Just how this will articulate to the veterinary sector remains to be seen, but, potentially the profession could take the lead from the healthcare sector with online ‘telemedicine’ consultations utilising VOIP, webchat and social media imaging platforms becoming more commonplace.
If you would like to see more on this topic, please feel free to download an infographic on the statistics by clicking below: