Following its founding in 2012, VetSOAP launched a multiphase research initiative to validate our hypothesis that there is a correlation between the health of companion animals and the frequency and timeliness of collaboration between primary care veterinarians and specialists. We further sought to quantify the impact of this collaboration (or lack thereof) on the health of animals and the practices’ bottom line.

Here’s an overview of the research we have conducted to date:

Phase 1: Observational Research—Via an extensive literature search, we sought to more fully understand the nature of referral dynamics in our profession and the scope of the problem. Based on this observational research, we produced a white paper that articulates what’s working and where there are gaps that hinder collaboration. Read the white paper.

Phase 2: Investigational Research—Next, via online forums, we conducted qualitative research to reveal referral attitudes and behaviors among primary care veterinarians, and help provide direction for subsequent quantitative research. Learn what these clinicians told us.

Phase 3: Quantitative Research—Knowing how clinicians value data, we conducted further quantitative research to measure the impact that collaboration has on patient outcomes for five disease states:

Septic foal

Modeled after research conducted in 2016 by VetSOAP board member, Bonnie Lefbom, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology), and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association*  (JAVMA), the retrospective study showed that small dogs with congestive heart failure that were co-managed by a veterinary cardiologist and a primary care veterinarian lived 77% longer and generated 22% more revenue at the primary care practice than those managed by a primary care veterinarian alone.

These findings are a powerful, objective validation of just how valuable working together can be for animal health—and for the economic health of providers who co-manage their patients. Collaborative outcomes research methodology and results are pending journal publication. Results will be available with journal publication release in  2019.

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*Lefbom B, Peckens N. “Impact of collaborative care on survival time for dogs with congestive heart failure and revenue for attending primary care veterinarians.” JAVMA, July 1, 2016, Vol. 249, No. 1, Pages 72-76