Dr. Timothy Kraabel of Lien Animal Clinic in Seattle thought he would do in-person veterinarian visits for his entire career. However, he and his team had to get creative when the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the United States because he didn’t want to inadvertently expose his immunocompromised wife to the virus. After deciding that he would work exclusively as a telemedicine veterinarian, Dr. Kraabel began using the Otto platform to continue serving patients. This created an additional revenue stream for Lien Animal Clinic and allowed Dr. Kraabel to maintain his relationships with the pet owners.
The COVID-19 Dilemma
Veterinarians and their staff are accustomed to making adjustments on the fly, but none of them could have foreseen the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to their doorsteps. Almost immediately, the number of clinical appointments increased significantly along with the strain on the staff overall. Furthermore, many veterinarians and staff members that are immunocompromised or have immediate family with health issues began scrambling to figure out how they could maintain their positions without putting themselves or their families at risk.
This is the exact scenario that Dr. Kraabel found himself in. Dr. Kraabel’s wife has a respiratory condition that makes her especially susceptible to the ill-effects of the COVID-19 virus. This presented Dr. Kraabel with quite the dilemma. He wanted to maintain his usual ability to interact with animals and their owners in person, but he did not consider it worth the potential risk to his wife’s health.
The Veterinary Telemedicine Solution
In order to maintain Dr. Kraabel’s ability to assist with consultations at Lien Animal Clinic, ownership and upper management made the bold decision to allow him to work exclusively from home using telemedicine. After doing some research, Dr. Kraabel and his team decided to use the Otto platform to meet his remote pet care needs. The initial expectations were that the clinic would be able to move a few appointments from in-person consultations to online veterinary consultations, but almost immediately they realized the robust capabilities that were available to them.
Very early on in the process of performing Otto consultations, Dr. Kraabel realized that telemedicine could be used for all of their three main consultation types: Procedural, surgical, and re-checks. “Everything is appropriate through telemed if you don’t have the consultation in the clinic,” Dr. Kraabel said. “I can start anything using telemedicine, as long as I know when to stop to seek other input and consult with the pet owner about potential limitations”; with one of those potential limitations being the state’s VCPR requirements.
“It isn’t even just that the client experience is better, it’s that myexperience was better.”
Pet owners around the country are having to deal with trying to book appointments for their animals several weeks out because of the increased volume at veterinary clinics. When asked about how the pet owners reacted to the telemedicine vet consultations, Dr. Kraabel said, “they’re ecstatic to do it from home.” Thus, these pet owners loved the fact that they could conveniently and quickly access their veterinarian for online veterinary care. Dr. Kraabel put it this way: “More clients are happier because there is more access.”
It wasn’t just an improvement for the pet owners; it also improved the experience of the veterinary staff. “It isn’t even just that the client experience is better, it’s that my experience was better,” Dr. Kraabel said. “We engaged the pet owners more, but we actually put in less effort as a staff and the pet owners had a greater perception for what they got out of the online veterinary care.”
The Two-Fold Benefit
Adding Otto when they did allowed Lien Animal Clinic a two-fold benefit:
1. Increasing clinic revenue
2. Strengthening relationships with pet owners.
The additional revenue Lien Animal Clinic was able to generate by utilizing the Otto platform was substantial. During one five-day stretch, they were able to generate $11,520.24 in clinic revenue. Simply put, the revenue that Dr. Kraabel generated with his telemedicine vet consultations created a revenue stream that the clinic did not have prior to the pandemic.
Moreover, Otto allowed Dr. Kraabel the ability to connect with his pet owners in a way that would otherwise not be possible due to forced shutdowns, mask regulations, and social distancing mandates. “What Otto brought to the practice is that the telemedicine vet consultation became the most connected visit that you can have because you’re actually face-to-face,” Dr. Kraabel said. The connections that they were able to make using the Otto platform was beneficial to both sides of the online veterinary consultation.
For Lien Animal Clinic, the $11,520.24 they were able to generate in a short period and the client connection created is significant enough that they intend to maintain their Otto services as part of their offerings long after the COVID-19 virus subsides.