Are Veterinary Consolidators and Hospital Groups Helping or Hurting Veterinary Medicine?
During the last three decades, an increasing number of privately-owned veterinary hospitals providing general, specialty, and emergency medical care to pets have been acquired by corporate entities such as veterinary consolidators — market share has increased approximately 300% in the last 6 years. Today, nearly 1 out of 3 general veterinary practices in the U.S. are owned by corporate consolidators — In 2017, approximately 11% of all practices were corporate-owned.
In HUMAN medicine, the Association of Independent Doctors (AID – no longer in operation), a trade association representing the concerns and interests of independent doctors, which seeks to stop the consolidation of hospitals and medical practices stated:
- “Every day hospitals and private equity groups are buying up medical practices turning independent doctors into employees. That trend is not healthy for patients or for doctors and it hurts our health-care system. When doctors give up their independence to work for health systems, studies show that health-care costs go up, quality goes down, access to care is limited, jobs are lost, communities suffer financial harm, and doctors feel less satisfied. Everybody pays.”
A recent first-of-its-kind peer-reviewed study REVEALED “veterinarians working in corporate practices reported feeling more pressure than those in private practice to generate revenue and see more clients per shift.”
There are currently more than 60 veterinary consolidators (most are backed by private equity firms) in the u.s. — investment strategy were a hospital group acquires as many independent veterinary practices as possible (including competing consolidators) — roll up practices into a larger organization. The entity is typically resold within 3 to 5 years to a larger consolidator for a substantial profit — the process is repeated until there are no more independent practices left to acquire.
A CALL TO ACTION: Reclaiming Veterinary Medicine from Big Corporations
- “With the proliferation of corporatization in the veterinary profession, veterinarians are more often managed by nonveterinary professionals from other multiunit entities who come with no understanding or experience of the pet medical care world. With this new management comes the push for veterinarians to care for an excessive number of pets per shift with strict cost control, which results in fewer staff to assist the veterinarian.”
Common Perceptions about Corporate-Owned Veterinary Practices
- A common complaint within veterinary medicine is that big corporations focus too much on the bottom line. Many employees of veterinary consolidators say their employer prioritizes profits over patient care.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE COMING YEARS FOR VETERINARY MEDICINE IN THE U.S.
Competition Watchdog Bares Teeth Again in Veterinary Realm (5.4.22)
- The United Kingdom’s competition regulator has moved to block a veterinary takeover deal, in a sign that antitrust authorities are growing increasingly uneasy about the rising power of big corporations in the profession.
- The market share of independent practices in the U.K. plummeted from 83% in 2013 to 45% in 2021.