Last week saw the launch of the first wave of CM Research & Vetspanel’s coronavirus tracker. We’re running this every 2 to 3 weeks until the impact of the outbreak has lessened. Even in the last few days changes have been monumental for veterinary professionals (and pretty much all of us!). Some clinics have closed doors to sales reps or to all but non-essential cases. On a more personal level, earlier this week a clinic receptionist showed me her cracked and sore hands – a result of new policies around regular hand washing. During the same shift a disgruntled client walked out of the clinic after being told they could not pay with cash anymore. The next day that clinic closed for the near future.
Veterinarians are reporting huge impacts on their clinics
The full results of the first wave of this tracker, covering 5 European countries, the US and Australia will be published on Friday 20th March. The focus of this short piece is a window into what veterinary professionals are expecting from manufacturers and service providers.
Whilst the greatest reported impact on practices relates to number of clients and, by extension, revenue, there has already been a perceived impact on stock delivery and availability of drugs. Availability of drugs and medical supplies and deliveries of stock are reported as being “less than usual” in almost all countries (though this is of course linked to the decline in footfall).
In Italy, where the outbreak is currently more serious, the differences are stark:
Although, it’s rather less stark than the differences between claimed impact on revenue:
What support do veterinarians expect?
So, with an already huge impact on how clinics are operating; what support, if any, do veterinarians expect from manufacturers? A huge 96% of the 1033 veterinarians we spoke to across the world expected at least some support. That support falls into two main categories: information about stock availability and pricing measures. There is also some appetite for information to share with clients, coronavirus focused CPD/newsletters and manufacturers driving research on into coronavirus (especially in Germany).
Regular updates on stock availability is the top expectation in most countries, followed by advice on how to deal with potential shortages. Veterinarians also expect increased production or rationing when it comes to stock. Interestingly, rationing is a tactic expected more in English speaking markets:
Avoiding price increases and payment flexibility are next on the list. of vets expect price capping and nearly as many increased payment flexibility. This is especially the expectation in Italy where around two thirds expect support relating to price and payment. In the US, where pharmaceutical pricing is already high, we also see higher reported figures than other countries.
What actions should I take?
In short, what vets are expecting are practical measures to help them weather the storm. To what extent manufacturers and service providers can meet these expectations is down to a multitude of individual factors.
However, what we know from years of studying the interactions between vets and manufacturers is that practical measures are often hygiene factors. In this unsettling period, more than ever veterinarians will be looking for manufacturers who can empathise and understand their challenges. To stand out, be the manufacturer who does what they can to ease stock and financial concerns, but also supports clinics with advice, a listening ear and knowledge of how this outbreak is impacting the day to day lives of veterinary professionals.