Is Going Mobile the Future of the Vet Profession?
“Disruptive innovation” is a process whereby smaller companies with fewer resources can successfully challenge established corporates. One of the most famous examples of this was Blockbuster’s well-documented decline after ignoring the threat posed by Netflix. When Netflix started offering a wide selection of low-cost videos, streamed over the internet, it appealed to Blockbuster’s core customer segment and eventually led to the company’s collapse.
I’m drawn to new ways of practising and managing the veterinary industry. One sector that has the potential to pave a severely disruptive path is the rise of the mobile veterinary network in the small animal quarter.
Many vet hospitals have offered visits as an expensive add-on to the traditional business model, focusing on developing their core services in a fixed location. But some entrepreneurial veterinarians and business owners have seen this as an opportunity.
This article looks deeper into the world of the mobile veterinary profession and questions could it be the future of the small animal vet.
Benefits to the pet
We’ve all been there, that vaccination that has the whole practice and poor pet owner’s family in disarray. Some patients just aren’t cut out for coming to the vets. Who can blame them? They don’t understand why they’re being jabbed or restrained. I know I’d find it pretty scary, I’d probably be that nightmare case if it was the other way round.
A mobile service allows pets to be treated and examined in a safe environment, which can make for a less stressful and more succinct consultation.
The other consideration is geriatric patients. As veterinary medicine and related industries innovate, pet life expectancies continue to rise. The effect that time has on a patient’s mobility and mental capacity, is it fair to continue to ship these animals to and from the practice? Our elders prefer to be treated in the comfort of their homes when possible, why not offer a similar service to pets?
Vets2Home — Peaceful Pet Goodbyes are one such service that specialises in end of life care for pets at their homes.
Benefits to the owner
I was interested to find out when talking to mobile vets at the wide variety of customers who use this service. I had assumed it would be adopted by an older demographic with disposable income and time. However, I was stunned to discover many young professionals have embraced the transportable consultation. “After a hectic day and lengthy commute, do you struggle to find time in the day to get your pet to the vet? No problemo, have the vet meet you at home after work.”
A travelling vet has an obvious appeal to those owners who have their mobility issues, for example, the elderly or disabled.
Benefits to the vets
We touched on this earlier, that examining aggressive and nervous animals in their home would indeed prove safer in many cases.
Joining the mobile vet community has an attraction to those professionals looking for a better work-life balance. Pawsquad offers both home visits and telephone advice from veterinary professionals, contactable 24/7. This flexibility serves vets looking to generate extra income from their living room or schedule their working day around picking the kids up from school.
There are obstacles to a mobile veterinary clinic, such as providing hospitalisation and storing equipment. Collaboration with practices in the region can help prove a way round this. Hospitals that fight against a motorised movement (rather than work with) will be those most impacted by their growth.
Interestingly, some mobile clinics progress to established premises as their business grows. This was the case for the Mobile Vet from the Isle of Wight, which has recently moved into their first fixed location. The Mobile Vet still offers a comprehensive visitation service, but after building a loyal following there was a clear demand for a central base.
In my opinion, the mobile community will play a large part in the future of the profession. I don’t believe it can replace a hospital, but there is a requirement for this personal and convenient service. Historically serving rural areas, we can predict to see mobile clinics popping up in cities across the UK. As vets continue to look for a better balance between working life and career, could life on the road provide the answer?