Revenue up, but visits were down for 2010, AAHA study says

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Jul 01, 2011

LAKEWOOD, COLO. — Practice revenues across the profession increased 3 percent from 2009 to 2010, despite unique patient visits declining by 1 percent, according to a new study released by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

The State of the Industry 2010 Review contains data from more than 3,800 practices and 19 million pet records.

Although the revenue was up cumulatively across the nation's veterinary practices, only about half actually saw growth, AAHA reports. About 40 percent of practices reported a decrease in revenue, compared to 58 percent with revenue increases, according to the study. The percentage of revenue growth correlated to practice size, with larger practices reporting higher revenue growth.

Feline medicine is the best opportunity for practitioners to grow their business, says AAHA, reporting that about 70 percent of clients in 2010 were dogs, compared to about 30 percent cats, with dogs claiming nearly 80 percent of practice revenue compared to 21 percent by cats. Average transaction charges for dogs are $109.26 compared to $90.73 for cats—a 17 percent gap, AAHA reports.

And while cats seem to make up the mouse's share of appointments in many small-animal veterinary hospitals, visits are decreasing even further. Unique patient visits were down over the course of the year for both cats and dogs, but dog visits were down only 0.6 percent while cat visits decreased 1.7 percent, according to the study.

Preventive medicines are a key revenue component and can provide opportunities for growth, AAHA notes. More than 30 percent of dog owners purchased flea-and-tick preventives, and almost 40 percent purchased heartworm preventives. Only 24 percent of cat owners purchased flea-and-tick preventives, and about 13 percent purchased heartworm preventives. On average, dogs were given six flea-and-tick doses and 12 heartworm medication doses during 2010, while cats were given one dose of flea-and-tick medication and six doses of heartworm medications.

Visit http://aahanet.org/ to see the full study.