Leveraging health certificates in order to help drive practice revenue

Digital health certificates issued and stored electronically helps reduce physical storage requirements and simplifies retrieval and distribution to pet owners and regulatory bodies. GettyImages/ xavierarnau

As practices continue to face pressure to serve more patients with fewer resources, finding new ways to drive revenue while streamlining processes and communications is critical. When practice owners think of attracting new patients, they often look to paid marketing advertisements; however, an often-overlooked strategy is practice differentiation through expanded service offerings.

One example of this is animal health certificates or certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI), which range from international health certificates and for-sale documents to rabies vaccination certificates and prescriptions. These are not just a formal necessity, but serve as a potential marketing tool and revenue generator for practices.

Sometimes thought of as a time-consuming and low-margin activity, recent advancements in technology have streamlined creating and managing these documents and facilitated improved document sharing and enhanced communication among all stakeholders involved.

The role of animal health certificates

Animal health certificates are vital documents certifying an animal’s health status. They are essential for various purposes, including travel, breeding, sale, and sometimes even boarding. These certificates serve as more than just bureaucratic necessities; they are opportunities for veterinary practices to demonstrate their comprehensive care capabilities and meticulous attention to detail.

For domestic purposes, the requirements for issuing animal health certificates can vary significantly by state or region. Generally, these certificates must include a thorough examination record by a licensed veterinarian, proving the animal is free from infectious diseases and meets all health standards required by the destination jurisdiction. The submission process often requires detailed documentation of the animal’s medical history, vaccination records, and sometimes even genetic testing results, depending on the purpose of the certificate and the specific regulations of the receiving state or territory.

On the international front, the endorsement of animal health certificates involves more stringent regulatory oversight. These certificates must conform not only to the national standards of the originating country, but also to the health and entry requirements of the destination country. This process typically requires the veterinarian to collaborate with government agencies to ensure compliance with international health standards, involving additional health tests and treatments that may not be necessary for domestic travel. For example, some countries require specific vaccinations, parasite treatments, or quarantine periods prior to entry. After the veterinarian completes the required health checks and treatments, the international health certificate must be officially endorsed by a government veterinarian or an authorized animal health official, ensuring it meets all international guidelines.

These regulatory complexities underscore the importance of veterinary practices being well-versed in both domestic and international animal health regulations. Offering these services not only requires expertise in veterinary medicine, but also a familiarity with the bureaucratic processes involved, positioning the practice as a crucial resource for pet owners needing to meet specific travel requirements. As such, the ability to issue and endorse health certificates can attract new clients looking for comprehensive veterinary care and regulatory guidance, effectively broadening the practice’s client base and enhancing its reputation in the community.

Generating new revenue

Below are some of the different ways health certificates can help generate revenue for your practice:

  1. Expanding services. Offering health certificate services enables veterinary practices to charge for the health check-up, the certificate issuance, and sometimes a premium for expedited services. This not only increases the per-visit revenue, but also encourages regular health checks, ensuring ongoing patient care and revenue flow.
  2. Building trust and credibility. By issuing certified health documents, practices affirm their commitment to maintaining the highest standards of animal health. This enhances their credibility, potentially attracting more pet owners keen on receiving top-quality care for their pets.
  3. Partnership opportunities. Practices can partner with local and international pet travel agencies or breeders, becoming their preferred provider for health certificates. This opens additional revenue streams and increases the practice’s visibility among pet owners.

Marketing your practice

The following are examples of how you can market your practice and promote this service offering:

  1. Enhanced visibility. Health certificates are often required for a variety of activities involving a wider community of pet owners and enthusiasts. Each certificate issued carries the name and contact information of the veterinary practice, serving as a free marketing tool that reaches new potential clients.
  2. Promoting specialized services. For practices specializing in certain types of animals or specific medical services, health certificates offer an opportunity to highlight these specialties. For instance, if a practice is known for its expertise in exotics, issuing health certificates for these animals can attract owners of exotic pets from a wider area.
  3. Social proof and testimonials. Satisfied clients who have utilized the health certificate services can be encouraged to share their positive experiences on social media or the practice’s website. This kind of social proof is invaluable for attracting new clients.
  4. Digital referrals. Pet travel websites are helpful in directing animal owners to accredited veterinarians who can provide these services, serving as a valuable source of lead generation for your practice.

The technological edge

Integrating technology can streamline the process of issuing and managing health certificates, making it more efficient and less error-prone. Here’s how technology can aid veterinary practices in this aspect:

  1. Digital issuance and storage. Technology allows for digital health certificates to be created and stored electronically. This not only reduces the physical storage needs, but also makes it easier to retrieve and send certificates to pet owners and regulatory agencies.
  2. Enhanced communication with stakeholders. Digital platforms can facilitate better communication channels between veterinarians, pet owners, regulatory authorities, and other stakeholders. For example, updates and reminders about a health certificate’s expiration can be automated, ensuring continuous compliance and repeat visits.
  3. Data analytics. Digital tools can analyze the data collected during health checks to offer insights into prevalent health issues, popular services, and client demographics. This information can be crucial for tailoring marketing strategies and improving service offerings.
  4. Time savings. The veterinary industry can benefit from the automation and time savings brought by technology. This is especially valuable as our industry faces a shortage of vets and an increase in pets.

Animal health certificates represent a significant untapped potential for veterinary practices looking to expand their revenue and clientele. By strategically leveraging these certificates, combined with the use of modern technology, practices can not only streamline their operations but also enhance their market presence. As the veterinary industry becomes more competitive, those who innovate in how they manage and utilize routine documentation such as health certificates will likely lead the pack in both profitability and popularity.

Rebecca Johnson is the senior director of marketing at GlobalVetLink. A graduate of Iowa State University now residing in northwest Iowa, Johnson’s background in agriculture and animal science fuels innovative marketing strategies tailored to the unique needs of the veterinary industry. Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or (515) 817-5075.