There has been a lot of enthusiasm and interest around the many innovations that have taken place in pet products over the last decade. Just as exciting have been the breakthroughs taking place within veterinary medicine and the life-saving and life-enhancing innovations they are ushering in.
These range from digital cytology that provides same-day diagnosis to artificial intelligence to review and analyze digital x-rays. Innovation extends to the design and architecture of veterinary hospitals and clinics too. Centered around the pet and pet parent’s experience, they include outdoor examination areas, wellness centers complete with warm towels and soothing music and the creation of home-like comfort rooms within the hospital to say goodbye to a beloved pet undergoing euthanasia or review a cancer diagnosis.
At this year’s Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX), which took place in June in Orlando, Florida and virtually worldwide, we were able to see some exciting new products and technologies on display, and talk with the entrepreneurs behind them. One of the standout events was our fourth annual VMX Pet Pitch Competition where start-up companies present their products in a “Shark Tank” style competition. What differentiated this year’s competition was that so many of the featured products tackled something we can neither manufacture nor create more of, and that is time; specifically, the veterinarian’s time. Focused on new technologies, these products free veterinarians from administrative and other time-consuming tasks, allowing them to focus on what really matters: caring for their patients and clients. Startup company Talkatoo exemplified this with its winning entry, a dictation tool. Using a sophisticated speech-to-text capability that recognizes the unique and complex vocabulary of veterinary medicine, Talkatoo speeds up the process of transcribing medical records and reduces the time veterinarians spend on this critical — and time-consuming — task, so that they can devote more time to their patients.
The future of veterinary medicine, as it relates to new technologies and innovation, will be the focus of the first combined Veterinary Innovation Summit and NAVC Media eCommerce Summit August 27 to 29 in Kansas City, known as the Animal Health Corridor. Previously held as two standalone events, in 2021, they are being presented as a single omnichannel market.
Some of the world’s most progressive and innovative thinkers in the veterinary industry will present consumer-driven trends that are changing the delivery of care and the purchase of veterinary products and services. Some of the trends we saw during COVID-19, like telehealth and curbside visits, will be permanent fixtures in the delivery of veterinary medicine, while other exciting new trends are making their mark as well.
In her presentation, “Convergence of Frontiers in Veterinary and Human Healthcare,” Eleanor Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP, senior advisor and consultant at Animal Policy Group, will explore how healthcare is changing at an exponential rate, driven by the development of breakthrough technologies and new models of care, all within a backdrop of rapidly advancing digital technologies. She will look at how it is mutually beneficial for veterinary and human professions to work together in a one-health approach to benefit clients, patients and both professions.
Jim Harris, the author of the international bestselling book “Blindsided!” and renowned consultant on change and leadership, will discuss “Disruptive Innovations.” Kerry O’Hara, PhDc, president of APG O’Hara Research & Analytics, will present a provocative look at how COVID-19 has impacted pet owners’ behaviors and expectations, including how the animal health industry will pivot post-COVID, what the pet owner-veterinarian relationship will look like post-COVID, how millennials are evolving the animal health industry and much more.
The advances we are seeing across the veterinary profession are life-changing on many levels and enabling us to better accomplish the mission that drives us daily: to provide better healthcare for animals everywhere. Innovation is good; but it needs to be managed. It should be applied to make life better, and not to create more stressors. Hopefully, we have learned from the early days of the internet and wireless technology that being connected and “always-on” is not always good. We know all too well in the veterinary community the importance of “wellness,” having balance in our lives and taking care of ourselves and loved ones. More than just the “whiz-bang” aspects of technology, we should strive to harness innovation to truly improve all aspects of our lives and the veterinary professionals we trust to care for our pet family members.
Gene O’Neill is chief executive officer of the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC), a nonprofit organization and global leader in continuing education for veterinary professionals. Under Gene’s leadership and vision, the NAVC is expanding its virtual portfolio, taking the events and continuing education opportunities through which NAVC built its global reputation and making them available to veterinary professionals worldwide through exciting and engaging new virtual platforms and programs.