Adobe Animal Hospital and Otto Solve the Problems of Traditional Membership Programs with Care 2.0

“We not only helped our staff with the financial discussions, but we actually started making a difference in the pets’ lives.”

In today’s economy, clinics around the country are searching for ways to make high-quality care accessible through flexible payment options. Summer Burke-Irmiter, one of the former hospital administrators and owners of Adobe Animal Hospital, and Christina Freeman, remote manager at Adobe Animal Hospital, were trying to solve this problem well before it became a hot topic. They share how their journey began with traditional wellness plans, and how their approach evolved over the years.

“In the 15 years I have worked at Adobe Animal Hospital, we always wanted a membership program. We wanted to have these packages to help clients be able to afford the medical care at Adobe. And we tried several times to create our own plans. And that’s where, unfortunately, we kept hitting roadblock after roadblock. ” says Summer Burke-Irmiter.

The Difficulty of Building Homemade Membership Programs
In short—one size doesn’t fit all. The Adobe team wanted to allow their doctors to practice medicine the way they felt was best without being restricted by a rigid membership program or wellness plan.

Summer shared, “I still have the Google Sheets, Word documents, and everything trying to create our own. But then even once we would get a kind of a system down, there’s no platform that could support it. We went out there, we looked at all kinds of different platforms, but nothing met what we needed with the flexibility or wasn’t cumbersome on the staff. ”

The Adobe team wasn’t ready to give up, so they established their list of must-haves in a membership program:

  • The program had to change the conversation about finances. One goal of the membership program was to make it easier for the staff to discuss care costs, and easier for clients to accept and afford.
  • The program had to be simple. Christina shared that she wanted the program to be simple, clear, and flexible. Moldable like Play-Doh.
  • The program had to fit the way each doctor practiced medicine. Adobe doesn’t place restrictive rules on their veterinarians, so the membership program needed to match the values of Adobe.
  • The program had to work for any species. It might sound simple but treatment plans for dogs look very different than they do for guinea pigs.

Christina shares that after much research for a program that met their needs, “We could not find it. We tried.” The Adobe team reached out to Otto to discuss collaborating on a new kind of membership program. At that time, Otto had a traditional care plan offering, Care 1.0, as the team calls it internally. The Otto team was anxious to hear what Adobe needed in a Care program and set to work developing a program for the modern veterinary clinic.

Otto’s customizable Care membership program give clinics the flexibility to create care plans that match their unique standards of care.

Developing a membership program for modern veterinary practice

Adobe and Otto started with a collaboration on the “Care 1.0” platform. Summer shares, “Otto did exactly what we asked. They made a program where we could have all of these medical options for a client. We had some basic packages, but then they could add on everything from anal glands to toenail trims, which we thought was great. That’s what we wanted, that’s what we asked for, that’s what we thought would work for us. But what we found out is that it made it really complicated. It made it complicated for the clients, it made it complicated for the staff. And it boxed us in.”The Adobe team struggled to make Care 1.0 work across every species they see, and the program proved too clunky to be scalable — a common challenge with traditional care programs.

Christina explains the final straw that made the team decide that Care 1.0 needed an overhaul. “The fatal blow was the first client that I checked out, and I just remember my heart crashing. I went into the room with a client via video, and I was so excited. She was our very first adopter of Care 1.0, and she was here for her visit. As I’m going through her invoice, she literally used every single service on her plan. So, now what? She’s gonna continue to pay for 11 more months and come to the hospital for things, and there’s not gonna be anything that her Care plan gets for her. So, we went back to the drawing board very quickly.”

The Adobe team shared their experience with Otto and the Otto team started doing research. A ton of research. The Otto team interviewed dozens of practices who were offering traditional care plans. Christina recalls that Shawna Castillo, the Otto Care Director, presented a very simple solution to make Care 2.0 work the way Adobe needed it to. Christina said, “It was crickets because we were just processing. It took us a long time to respond. But then, we started to roll, and then I remember everybody talking at once and then it was on, and we started to grow 2.0 and get really excited. It started to check off all the feedback from the clients, and all the feedback from the staff.”

“Christina and I tried to punch holes in it. And every time we tried to punch a hole, it filled right up with an answer. It fixed just about everything that our old offering had wrong. And then not only that, it helped us hit every single one of our goals.” notes Summer Burke-Irmiter

What did care 2.0 bring to the table

Otto Care as it exists today (Care 2.0) introduced a customizable membership program that enabled the staff to focus on medicine and top-level patient care –not a complex care plan. Every aspect of the membership program was customizable to meet Adobe’s needs. Plans were offered in a three-tiered program to allow pet parents to select the plan that best fits their pet’s needs – regardless of their age or stage of health.

With Care, financial conversations with pet parents were easier because instead of strict rules about what membership benefits could be used for, pet owners were given access to an instant spending account. This flexibility allowed pet parents to spend account credit on any services their pet needed, making it easy for pet parents to comply with their veterinarian’s recommendations.

Shawna states, “It’s like going from fright to delight with that checkout experience because that is something that we all deal with as practice managers — training and coaching your reception team to not cringe when they hand over the invoice at the end of an appointment.”
Christina noted, “Care is a cue card that’s been handed to them to help them know what to say next and, again, change that conversation, change it from, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. You owe $1,000.’ But now, there’s a solution.”

Otto looked at the average transaction per client (ATC) numbers for Care clients versus non-Care clients in the same three-month period of all Care 2.0 practices during this time. The data revealed an increased ATC of nearly 60% for those Care members versus non-Care members.

Long-term bonus discounts encouraged loyalty and incentivized pet parents to maintain their pets’ health while strengthening the bond with Adobe.

And if that wasn’t enough, the program also gave pet parents access to 24/7 teletriage service, which made live chat available any time, day or night, to connect pet parents with an experienced veterinary professional who could provide immediate access to expert advice and guidance for their pets’ healthcare needs. Shawna noted, “We have a nearly 80% utilization of the teletriage service that’s offered within our program. ”

Christina added, “ Our clients are talking to the teletriage team during the night, getting reassurance.-It’s a concierge service in a way, but a concierge service that means a lot more — it means the world.

Christina shared that she spends a lot of time reviewing Care with her clients:

“It’s been really gratifying to go through the numbers with these people and have them be like, “Okay,” because there isn’t anything hidden in there, the math works out. I think that that is one thing that is missing from any other membership plan or wellness plan that I’ve ever seen.” She continues “We’ve had so many clients saying yes to things that they normally say no to — yes to the additional diagnosis that they need, yes to continuing with purchasing that renal diet from us because they’ve got the Care plan.”

Christina went on to state, “One of our clients recently said, “I’m able to be a better owner to my pet because of Care.” I’m on the phone, and I lost it because we did it. We made our goal. We not only helped our staff with the financial discussions, but we started making a difference in pets’ lives.”

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