VetSOAP Publishes First-Ever Literature Review of Veterinary Profession Referral Dynamics

Extensive research explores quantifying outcomes of specialty referrals.

Las Vegas, NV – March 7, 2016 – Veterinary Specialists Outreach & Awareness Project (VetSOAP), a nonprofit organization composed of veterinarians in primary and specialty care, along with industry professionals, has announced the completion and impending publication of the first-ever comprehensive literature review of referral dynamics. This represents the conclusion of Phase 1 of a multiphase research project designed to demonstrate through quantifiable data that collaborative care improves outcomes.

“This literature review summarizes over one hundred published sources regarding referral dynamics between the primary care veterinarian (pcDVM) and veterinary specialists,” said Julie D. Smith, DVM, DACVS, MBA, VetSOAP president. “This first step synthesizes known factors that influence the referral process. Equally as important, the review identifies information gaps where VetSOAP will focus the next phase of our research.”

The information gathered implies that market dynamics such as declining visits and increased numbers of graduates in primary and specialty care could affect referral dynamics. Key factors influencing referral dynamics include perception of a client’s willingness or ability to pay, perception of client satisfaction, and clear, prompt communication between the specialist, pcDVM, and pet owner. The research also revealed interesting parallels between veterinary medicine and human dentistry.

While the review provides important perspectives on referral dynamics, additional qualitative and quantitative study is necessary to gain a comprehensive understanding. Phases 2 and 3 of VetSOAP’s research will explore the following in more depth:

Financial impact of client referral on the pcDVM – Does a robust referral dynamic result in a healthier/more successful veterinary practice and by what measures?

pcDVM referral dynamics – What are the characteristics of a successful relationship between primary care and specialty veterinarians? What is the current magnitude of the differential between a pcDVM’s perception of a client’s willingness to pay and a client’s actual willingness to pay? How does the use of pet insurance and/or financing influence the perception of referral?

Client satisfaction and patient outcomes – What is the pet owner’s awareness of, understanding of, and expectations related to the field of veterinary specialty care?

“Defining and creating a path forward to advance patient care, to provide longer, healthier lives for pets, and create overall economic progress for our profession are goals many of us share,” said VetSOAP board member Philip J. Bergman, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVIM (Oncology), who chaired this phase of research. “It is evident from this extensive review of data that shifting towards a true collaborative approach is an essential part of this critical path forward to ensure optimal outcomes.”

For more details on the research, download a copy of the Literature Review Executive Summary and Full Report.

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