Within NEAT work package 4, last month, we had a meeting to discuss requirements for teaching in the field of Economics of animal health. I tell, that was quite an interesting meeting where with a number of key players in this field we tried to determine which topics were needed for the so called “day one” veterinarians (i.e., veterinarians at the moment of graduation). You will certainly hear more about the outcomes, because they form the basis of the development of teaching materials within NEAT.
Let’s be clear: we were talking about the field Economics of Animal Health. We belief that for every veterinarian a basic appreciation of the use of economics in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of animal diseases is necessary.
It was interesting, though, that throughout our discussions, items from the field of Economics of Animal Health were intermingled with items from the field of Economics of the Veterinary Practice. So there comes the idea for this blog and the message is: there is a clear difference between the Economics of Animal Health and Economics for the Veterinary Practice.
The first field is needed to support decisions of animal owners or others responsible for animals: what are the Economic consequences of a disease, what is the value of diagnosis, of treatment or of prevention? This field requires knowledge from both economics as well as animal diseases.
The field of Economics of the Veterinary Practice is aimed at supporting owners of veterinary practices. This field is basically business economics, specifically for veterinary practices. It involves the calculation of cost prices of products and services, it requires knowledge about book keeping and investment analysis.
Some of the elements in both fields overlap. Items such as opportunity costs, depreciation and marginal analyses are used in both fields. Our veterinary students need especially teaching in the field of economics of animal health. However, some knowledge on the reason why the tariff for a consult (expressed in amount of money per hour) is much more than his or her salary comes in handy. Otherwise economics of the veterinary practise is typically an elective course and economics of animal health should be a mandatory part of the veterinary curriculum.