Vaccines aren't dead, but your veterinary practice's fee schedule may be

Follow these 10 steps to rejuvenate your practice's fee schedule and pricing strategy
Apr 01, 2012

"All glory comes from daring to begin."
— Eugene F. Ware

Do you remember hearing about the practitioner who charged $85 for a rabies vaccine? It wasn't that long ago.

In the 1980s, James F. Wilson, DVM, JD, championed the concept of free vaccines. He opined: "Do the physical examination and assessment, and give the vaccines for free." That idea sunk like the Titanic. But it may have been about 30 years ahead of its time.

Consider these trends:
  • Verizon tried to sneak in a $2 fee on phone bills paid online. When the company got slammed in the media, it backed off.
  • Bank of America tried to sneak in a $5 fee for ATM use. When the company got slammed in the media, it backed off.
  • Netflix tried to slip in a little increase in its monthly fees. When the company got slammed in the media, it backed off.
  • HP tried to split in two. When the company got slammed, it backed off.

Consumers have given us notice: The marketplace has changed forever. Consumers are smarter, more savvy and on the move. In fact, they're "fracturing" each dollar they spend.

What does that mean? Consumers are willing to split up their purchases on veterinary services for a perceived value. We can see it with an increasing use of Internet pharmacies. Wal-Mart's pharmacy pricing has gotten their attention, too. Additionally, we see local human pharmacies pushing to provide veterinary drugs to pet owners.

The traditional middle-market practice where high vaccine fees subsidize complex inpatient casework has created opportunities for niches to emerge. This single issue is one big reason wellness-only practices, spay/neuter clinics and vaccine clinics are viable. They can provide these specific services at a lower cost to the public, because they're not burdened with the extreme overhead of a full service and heavily capitalized traditional practice's inpatient zone.

Today, practice managers must price services based on the cost to deliver the various and specific services previously subsidized with a vaccine subsidy mentality.