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COVID-19 , News

Clinic business fell as COVID-19 took hold

VHMA reports a 2.3% drop in revenue in March and nearly universal implementation of curbside services.

Clinic business fell as COVID-19 took hold

A Veterinary Hospital Managers Association survey has found that revenue at several hundred companion animal practices declined by an average of 2.3% in March compared with 12 months earlier as COVID-19 infections spread nationwide and stay-at-home orders were enacted.

February, by comparison, saw revenue growth of nearly 9% compared with the same month in 2019.

The Insiders’ Insights report, which is produced monthly by the VHMA, revealed that patient visits dropped by 5.7% in March, year over year, and that new-client growth was down 15%.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed our world in a way that no one saw coming,” industry consultant Karen E. Felsted wrote in an introduction to the survey results. “Some of these changes will likely just be short term but others may change how veterinary medicine (and the world) operate in the long run.”

Among other findings in the survey of about 335 practices:

  • Half did not change their hours of operation in March.
  • The most common services offered were sick care (96%), medication and food pickup (94%), emergency care (83%) and follow-up progress exams (83%).
  • 97% utilized curbside drop-offs and pickups to “mitigate virus exposure to your staff and clients,” 90% allowed only staff members inside the hospital, and 86% accepted payments by phone or mobile app only.
  • 64% reduced staff hours and 34% laid off or furloughed staff members.
  • 60% started or were considering telemedicine services, and 6% already offered it.
  • 14% had a cash reserve fund that could last more than four months and 28% had enough money on hand to last one month or less.

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