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Healthcare License DefenseMost towns, or at least larger cities, have a veterinary hospital to take care of our furry family members. The demand for veterinary services is not decreasing, especially with the rise in pet adoptions during the pandemic, when more people were home to take care of and raise animals. So while veterinary hospitals are not hurting for clients, there can still be a loss in profit depending on particular conditions of operation, pricing, and business protocols.

Veterinary hospitals owned and operated by a larger corporate chain are less likely to suffer the direct blow of profit loss. These hospitals have a safety net of corporate money that allows the individual hospital owned by that company more wiggle room in spending and general costs. There is certainly a benefit to having this safety net, especially when expensive equipment purchases need to be made, or new employees need to be onboarded. For veterinary hospitals who are self-owned, the licensed veterinarian(s) may be more personally responsible and involved with spending. If money is needed for particular things beyond day-to-day costs, there is no corporate pool from which to grab. If the money is needed but does not exist, some small vet offices may even have to resort to loans to cover costs of equipment and employee onboarding.

One of the ways that independent veterinary hospitals can attempt to increase, at least stabilize, their profit is by carefully identifying cost, value, frequency of services, and other related factors. For a corporate-owned hospital, these fees and costs may be determined by a provided financial advisor, who can observe supply and demand, cost of goods sold, and comparative fees associated with the standard services provided to patients. These types of decisions must be made, and protocols must be enacted on a more individual level with a small veterinary hospital. One of the reasons an individual might choose the services of a small business is the attractive pricing, and the feeling of supporting an independent entity rather than a corporate one. However, these generally lower costs can gravely affect the profit of the independent vet hospital. Thus, decisions must be made on price increases to counteract the expenses, and this can be a difficult transition that may even result in loss of clients. It is certainly a level of balance and personal involvement that is virtually non-existent in a veterinary hospital owned and managed by a corporate entity.

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Dental License DefenseDentists and hygienists endure many industry-specific challenges with their respective professional licensure. Potentially the biggest area of concern and hardship is insurance, both that the patient has/does not have insurance, and if insurance is involved, struggling to work with the insurance companies to get patients’ procedures effectively covered. In the same vein, on the professional/business side, dental offices also must contend with insurance companies to get paid for their own work that they do. These struggles are industry-wide, and do not have a blanket solution.

In the United States, which has a for-profit health care system and citizens are not required to have health insurance, including the many individuals that simply do not have the ability acquire it. In addition to the struggle to obtain health insurance, dental (and vision) insurance are completely separate insurances that are often not included with basic healthcare plans. This results in individuals having to do one of three things: 1) do not get dental insurance, 2) pay extra/additional to get dental insurance through their main health insurance plan, or 3) pay for a separate dental insurance plan that is separate and different from their health insurance (and usually costs more than if it is attached to their main health insurance).

The above-referenced conditions for the patient directly affect the services that the dental office is able to provide. If the patient does not have insurance, many struggle to afford the services that are needed for their dental health. This could result in less visits to the dentist, having to go on a payment plan, or even being delinquent in payment on the care provided to them, which particularly affects the licensed professional who needs to acquire income in exchange for their services. If the patient does have dental insurance, whether it be dedicated/separate or alongside their health insurance, both the patient and the dental office may have to fight to get the services covered. Some services are not covered but are common procedures; some insurances cover certain common procedures, whereas others do not; some insurances claim to cover specific services, but then will not do so; the list of scenarios goes on.

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Veterinarian License DefenseIn our previous post, we wrote about ways your clinic can cope with the changes caused by Covid-19. Here are some additional thoughts about understaffing and client satisfaction during the pandemic.

Question: How can my veterinary clinic navigate issues of understaffing caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Understaffing in Veterinary care was a common issue prior to the pandemic. The pandemic only worsens this divide. Following CDC guidelines, an employee who is exposed to Covid-19 must quarantine until they receive their test results, and even if they are negative, the length of the quarantine is 7 days from the test. If it is positive, the quarantine period is at least 14-days, and they cannot return until they acquire a negative test. This can create large, unexpected gaps in staffing if even one employee is following quarantine protocol. This issue can become exacerbated if multiple employees were exposed and require quarantine. We recommend to have a plan and prepare for these possible scenarios. It will still be challenging, but you will be prepared for the unexpected.

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Healthcare License DefenseOver a year into the Covid-19 Pandemic, there are still ongoing questions, concerns, and struggles faced by many industries. Veterinary care is certainly one of those industries affected, especially since Illinois deemed them as an Essential Service while most everything else was closed. We address commonly shared concerns and questions that have persisted throughout the pandemic:

Question: How can my veterinary clinic cope with the various changes caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Things are uncertain, confusing, and wholly different. Established protocols that have been tried and true methods can no longer be followed in the same way; basic day-to-day office interaction is punctuated by strict social distancing and sanitary procedures to keep everyone safe; clients, who were once an office fixture, are commonly disallowed from attending the appointments. It can be difficult to adapt to these changes even after experiencing them for the past year. We recommend embracing the change and facing it head on, rather than comparing operations to the past. Fixating on the way things are different rather than how your clinic can expertly navigate the challenges of the Pandemic is one way to affect the morale of your staff and your clients.

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Medical License DefenseAll physicians work incredibly hard in their profession. However, not all physicians experience the same challenges within their fields. Now more than ever, gender issues are commonly discussed and acknowledged in health related professions.

Because of the intensive, long hours that physicians experience, there can be particular challenges when it comes to arranging and securing childcare or being able to take maternity leave when the time comes. Certainly, not all female physicians have or will have children in their professional careers; however, for those who do, it’s a hurdle one must navigate to both comfortably practice and also feel confident in their parenting ability. There is certainly the expectation that female physicians will somehow, with ease, juggle the intensity of their careers and be perfect mothers simultaneously. In reality, the stress of childcare, motherhood, and pregnancy, alongside the stress of long hours and unforgiving work can severely affect the physician. There have been cases of reported negligence stemming from exhaustion and extreme stress caused or exacerbated by the inability to balance these challenges; some female physicians also turn to other methods to help them through these challenging times, and it can result in substance abuse issues that could threaten their license. Acknowledging these challenges and providing solutions to put the female physician in a less precarious position is an important step that needs to be taken at many facilities.

In addition to the very real challenges of childcare and motherhood, female physicians also experience discrimination based solely upon their gender. Sexism and biased attitudes toward women are still prevalent across most industries, and female physicians fall victim to this underlying (and sometimes overarching) current within their profession. Young male physicians are often lauded and highly regarded, or even seen as impressive, whereas young female physicians are often discredited and invalidated, with the assumption that they are too inexperienced and uneducated to properly care for patients and make the right medical decisions. This thread of negativity can place immense stress and pressure on the female physician and can destabilize their career, or even generate feelings of unworthiness and the want to leave to avoid further stress.

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