To evaluate technical efficiency of US companion animal practices.
60 independently owned companion animal practices selected from the 2022 AVMA Veterinary Practice Owners Survey.
A ratio of the weighted sum of outputs to weighted sum of inputs was computed for each practice (ie, decision-making unit [DMU]). Inputs included labor (hours worked) and capital (fixed costs and number of exam rooms). Outputs (or production) included annual gross revenue, number of patients seen per year, and number of appointment slots per full-time–equivalent (FTE) veterinarian per year. Data envelopment analysis was used to optimize the ratio and estimate relative efficiency (RE) scores.
25 (42%) practices were classified as having high efficiency (RE = 1 or 100% efficient), 26 (43%) as having moderate efficiency (RE > 0.7 but < 1.0), and 9 (15%) as having low efficiency (RE ≤ 0.7). Mean RE scores for moderate- and low-efficiency practices were 0.83 and 0.66, meaning they could have reached their current production levels with 17% or 34% less resources. Per the model, if all 60 practices were 100% efficient on the RE scale, 22 fewer FTE veterinarians, 47 fewer FTE veterinary technicians and assistants, and 43 fewer FTE nonmedical staff would be needed overall.
These preliminary findings suggested that efforts to optimize efficiency could allow companion animal practices to meet demands for their services without necessarily needing to hire more staff. Such efforts might include engaging support staff to their full potential and implementing automated processes. Additional research is needed to identify routines or workflows that distinguish high-efficiency practices from others.