At the Collaborative Care Coalition, we’ve long believed there is a correlation between the health of companion animals, and the frequency and timeliness of collaboration between primary care veterinarians and specialists. What’s more, we believe practices that routinely collaborate have a healthier bottom line, a more loyal clientele and, as a result, greater value.
In other words, our hypothesis is that collaboration is good for every stakeholder in veterinary medicine — especially our patients.
Think about it. In human medicine, it is established as best practice for a primary care physician (PCP) to refer a patient to a specialist to diagnose and treat a particularly complex medical issue. The PCP doesn’t “lose” their patient to the specialist. Instead, patients get the advanced expertise they need for a specific health problem, and continue to rely on their PCP for ongoing management of general health concerns as well as wellness and preventive care.
The dentistry profession also demonstrates the value of collaboration between generalists and specialists. When oral health initiatives such as fluoridation drastically reduced the incidence of cavities — the generalists’ bread and butter — their focus shifted to preventive care, and their practices have flourished even as specialists — endodontists, orthodontists, periodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, for example — have proliferated.
Now we have data that supports our beliefs. And we’re doing more research building tools for better collaboration.
Embracing Collaboration in Veterinary Medicine
In the veterinary profession, however, veterinarians have not fully embraced this collaborative care model — for a variety of reasons revealed in our observational research and behavioral survey. So to prove our hypothesis — and give veterinarians the data we’re confident will motivate them to collaborate more — we conducted quantitative research that demonstrates the value of collaboration — in healthier patients, and a more successful practice.