With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing most Americans to spend more time at home, the year 2020 was one of explosive pet adoption and ownership, otherwise known as the “pet boom.” Slightly more than half of American households already owned pets and that number rose to over 4% according to a study by Packaged Facts. With over 71 million households now owning a pet (96% of which are dogs and cats), the demand for veterinary care is understandably on the rise as well.
Millennials are the Largest Group of Pet Owners
Representing 31% of pet owners, Millennials represent a shift away from the Boomer generation of pet-owning. What does this mean? A shift in expectations to digital care and communications.
In the past, older generations of pet owners did not have access to robust digital communications from their veterinarians. Making appointments by phone, faxing medical records, and receiving appointment cards in the mail has been–until recently–the industry norm for client relations at many practices and hospitals.
Millennials, however, not only want digital communications, they expect them. According to a survey by OpenMarket, 76% of Millennials prefer texting over any other communication and 19% say they never check their voicemail.
If your clinic or hospital is relying on phone, mail, or email alone to communicate with clients, you could lose them to a more technologically savvy practice or not retain them after an initial visit.
Veterinarians Are More Burnt Out Than Ever
The so-called ‘pet boom’ of the past year has overtaxed the veterinary industry in more ways than one. Besides having to shift business operations, health protocols, and pet healthcare practices, many clinics have been overwhelmed by the onslaught of new pet ownership in addition to their existing caseloads.
Before the pandemic, veterinary schools were already taxed with meeting demand. Now, with clinics and hospitals understaffed with more pet healthcare demand than ever, veterinarians need as much support as they can get to run their practices without burning out.
In an interview with the New York Post, Dr. Diona Krahn told reporters, “All of my practices are booking out several weeks in advance. Clients are actually calling around and scheduling appointments at multiple locations, and even resorting to emergency care facilities.”
Given the high demand for pet care because of the pet boom, streamlining communications is a must, which is why a cloud-based veterinary system can offload much of the logistical burden it takes to run a practice. And, given that the majority of pet owners prefer digital communications to voice and written ones, now is the time to adopt a cloud-based system that appeals to clients’ needs and addresses veterinarians’ stress.
Remote Work Has Increased Pet Spending
With remote work the new norm, many existing and new pet owners have had more time to spend with their pets. And while many people are returning to the office, some level of remote work “is here to stay,” according to Forbes.
Pet owners who spend more time with their pets is a good thing, but it also means higher spending on veterinary care. In fact, according to a study by the Pet Foods Association, Americans spent nearly $99 billion on pet care in 2020–a record high.
With more and younger pet owners spending increased time working remotely at home with their pets, many of those same owners will expect remote and digital services from vet care providers.
How is your practice handling the pet boom? If you’d like to streamline your patient care and alleviate office backlogs, request a demo.