- Published on
AHCs: News and Numbers
OVForm, an online service that helps vets complete Animal Health Certificates (AHCs) faster and with less stress has been live since January 2022.
We have seen some interesting statistics emerging from our database and can report back some of our findings about the effects delivering AHCs is having on vets and practices.
Seasonality of AHC demand
Here’s interesting finding that shouldn’t be a surprise but perhaps we hadn’t really thought about is the variable demand for AHCs over time. Because we can’t issue AHCs more than 10 days before travel, we can’t spread them out evenly over the year so there are peaks in demand that correlate when people go on holiday. We don’t have a whole year of data yet but consider Practice A, they were barely doing any AHCs until Easter then demand shot up as they approached summer. They had to fit in three times as many AHCs in July compared with April. Knowing when clients like to travel can help practices be proactive. One solution could be a “travel clinic” at busy times of the year to prevent AHCs taking up too many routine appointments. Outsourcing to a peripatetic OV or online travel clinic are two more options practices could consider.
What is the impact of the introduction of AHCs on vets?
We knew AHCs were a burden but didn't realise the scale of it until we started speaking to vets.
We asked a group of veterinary professionals in March 2022 to answer a few short questions about their experiences completing AHCs – these were all OVs, but not specifically OVForm users. 269 completed the survey. Since AHCs were introduced in 2021, most vets would have had about a year’s experience issuing them at the time of this survey.
The first question was: "How long does it take you to complete an AHC, beginning to end?" with two options, to keep things simple:
· More than one hour
· Less than one hour
The second question was: "How do you feel when completing AHCs?" – again with two options:
Here are the results:
This data tells us that 60% of vets took more than one hour to issue an AHC, which is a significant amount of time and could add pressure to a busy day.
The percentage of all respondents who felt stressed while completing AHCs is 77%! That's a bit shocking and it’s not something we can ignore.
We don’t have a total AHC count for the UK at this stage, but from our conversations with practices, we estimate that around 20,000 certificates were issued during 2021.
We can see from these figures that practices are having to spend large numbers of vet hours to meet demand and that it adds to the stress that vets experience in their jobs. With many practices short staffed, solutions are urgently needed.
What does this mean for the future?
We’ve only had a year and a half to get used to the new requirements for pet travel. We have seen some practices recognise the benefits to themselves and their clients by offering this service. Many clients seem happy to pay a premium for the convenience of collecting their AHC from their home vet. It makes good business sense to charge appropriately and offer this service if it’s valued by our clients. There are a growing number of OV’s that issue AHCs as a standalone service, usually for a cheaper price. These “online travel clinics” can offer an alternative option for clients that can’t get an AHC from their home vet or want to pay less for the service.
OVForm is creating new ways to help both practices and online so that vets can meet demand without compromising on their business and purpose.
Case Study: OVForm in Practice
The practice Mary-Anne works at has been using OVForm the longest; they do a lot of AHCs every week so it was great for beta testing and gathering data.
So far in 2022, the 9 OVs at this practice have completed 143 AHCs… that could have been 143 hours of work (or more) and infinite headaches, but everyone is smiling and enjoying using the system.
Aside from simply saving time, AHCs have been transformed from a big, stressful event to just another appointment. One vet even says she likes AHCs now, because she doesn't have to think too hard! Imagine AHCs being a quiet break from your other consults which can require so much decision making and problem solving!
Accuracy is another huge benefit. It’s so easy to misspell a name, write an incorrect date, or simply not be sure something is legible (because none of us practices our handwriting much these days.) Any of those mistakes can make an AHC invalid, which adds endless extra stress, but having OVForm helps everyone to breathe easier. In addition to using nice, neat printed characters, it automatically checks dates that are entered and will warn of invalid rabies vaccinations or fields left blank. There’s far less chance of errors and issues, and less chance of clients being frustrated at the border.
Do many cats travel abroad?
First thing we wanted to know, and as it turns out, not that many. It would appear people take their dogs on holiday fifteen times more than cats! I’m sure cats will agree that they’re happier staying at home where possible!
Just in case you’re wondering, not a single AHC has been issued for a ferret so far on OVForm!