A centralized hospital
The main hospital is the crucial component. Any surgical patient that cannot be treated with the satellite's modest accommodations
is driven to the main hospital at noon and returned to the satellite clinic for discharge the next day. Serious cases are
admitted to the main hospital and discharged from there as well. Because satellite clinics should have fixed hours, emergencies
are also seen at the main facility. Calls are forwarded to the main hospital after hours and whenever the receptionist is
All purchasing is done at the main hospital and sold at cost to the satellite as needed. Computer bases should be Internet
linked, but fee codes should be individual to each satellite. Satellite clinics often support a higher fee structure than
the main hospital. Fee schedules for any one-to-five-mile radius in America are available.
Using a single name — such as Quality Care Pet Hospital Group of Your Town or Your Name Pet Hospital (A Quality Care Pet Hospital)
— will unify the satellite clinics and main hospital in clients' minds.
Human medicine already follows the satellite model. Taking it a step further, however, some small human hospitals merge to
form more cost-effective major hospitals.
There are many towns with three veterinary hospitals all just managing to scrape out a living. A single merged facility would
be more efficient and more profitable for all. The only thing preventing this sensible move is ego. It is the old story of
two veterinarians cast ashore on a deserted island where three hospitals are built: mine, yours and a third that neither of
us would be caught dead in.
If you have good staff and not enough clients to keep them busy, you can keep them and still expand productivity by either
separating with satellite clinics or merging with other practice owners in your situation.
Whether you're in an economically weak or strong area, in my experience both concepts work. Practices in better areas benefit
from owners tightening their management policies, and that may be a necessity in harder-hit places.
Dr. Snyder, a well-known consultant, publishes the newsletter Veterinary Productivity. He can be reached at 112 Harmon Cove
Towers Secaucus, NJ 07094; (800) 292-7995; Vethelp@comcast.net
; fax: (866) 908-6986.