There’s no denying that technology plays a huge role in our lives. For example, we can now use our smartphone devices to order a meal, to communicate with people on the other side of the planet, and even to control our heating thermostats remotely. Running low on milk? Don’t worry, the fridge has already added it to your shopping list.
Technological advancements aren’t just making our lives easier, though; they are also helping to improve the quality of our healthcare, as well as that of our cherished pets. In fact, the field of veterinary practice medicine has witnessed a number of dramatic transformations over recent years. We can now use technology to make faster and more accurate diagnoses, to offer better patient care, to better manage our practices, and, ultimately, to save more animal lives.
Here are a few ways you can use technology to enhance the services you offer your patients at your veterinary practice.
3D printing is becoming increasingly popular in the veterinary healthcare field. Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing can be used to enhance a range of surgical procedures. For example, if you purchase a 3D scanner for your veterinary practice, you can offer your patients tomography scans, you can make custom-designed implants and prosthetics for animals, and you can develop animal bone models to help educate pet owners about their animal’s physiology before they are operated on. You can also use 3D scanning technology to print natural tissue filled with cells and fluids which can then be used to repair damaged tissue in animals.
The 3D printing process is relatively simple:
- Gather 2D info from CT scans and x-rays
- Import data into a Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
- CAD virtually designs two-dimensional models
- Models are fitted and sized to the selected dimensions
- Software sends the information to the 3D printer
Pretty impressive, right?
Although the initial cost of purchasing a 3D scanner may seem daunting, the long-term cost-savings makes it worth it. And once you have a device set up in your veterinary practice, the possibilities are endless. In fact, the device is so flexible that you can replicate and print any design that you programme into the platform, provided you have access to the right materials. This hugely enhances the services you can offer your patients.
Machine Learning in Veterinary Practices
Machine learning is another technological advancement that can help you enhance the services you offer through your veterinary practice. Examples of machine learning and artificial intelligence include tracking, health and behaviour monitoring, and mechanisms for improved feeding and cleaning. Clinical applications include accurate diagnostics, and improved access to medical care and data.
The field relies on the use of automated protocols and algorithms to standardise models for treating sick or injured animals. This enables vets to have access to reliable, consistent, and automated data. This, in turn, gives clinicians more time to focus on time management, patient care, and other aspects of their veterinary practice, enhancing the client and patient experience.
Here are a few practical applications of machine learning to give you an idea of how AI can help you enhance your veterinary practice:
- Diagnostics: You can use machine learning applications and diagnostic tools to analyse images and identify suspected abnormalities. This helps you enhance your level of preventive care.
- Patient Monitoring: AI and machine learning can be used to monitor vital signs and eating and drinking behaviour in patients, especially useful for post-surgical care.
- Imaging: Machine learning technology can be used to analyse, interpret, compare, and prioritise x-rays.
- Surgery: Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and machine learning can be used in operating rooms, revolutionising the level of surgical care you can offer.
We can’t talk about machine learning and AI without bringing up the benefits that wearable devices can offer your veterinary practice.
Wearables are becoming a popular way to monitor the health of animals. Veterinarians can rely on technology including RFID sensors, GPS trackers, motion sensors, accelerometer sensors, cameras, and transmitters to keep track of vital statistics such as body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, and pH levels. This enables you to offer better post-operative care to animals, but it also helps you focus more on preventative care.
You can also use wearable devices to help your clients understand the health and wellbeing of their pets. For example, a growing range of electronic collars and cameras can now be used to monitor animal activity levels, sleeping patterns, and emotional states. And this is having a profound impact on the way clinics are able to practice veterinary medicine.
Put simply, wearable devices allow you to take a more proactive, not reactive, approach to veterinary care. And they also encourage your veterinary practice clients to get more involved in the proactive care of their beloved pets. And this, ultimately, is what every pet owner is looking for: peace of mind that their pet is receiving optimal care.
Software for Managing Practice and Client Data
Finally, another way you can enhance your veterinary practice significantly through technology relates to administration and data collection.
If your veterinary practice still relies on paper files and antiquated filing systems, then you are probably all too aware of the time and effort involved in managing your daily operations. Thankfully, there are now a range of software solutions that you can use to digitalise and streamline your processes.
For example, you can now use software to:
- Collect, store, and manage client data
- Schedule appointments
- Integrate blood work, testing, billing, and patient reminders into a single platform
- Access patient histories at the click of a button
- Integrate patient data and track practice performance on a regular basis (customer loyalty, revenue growth and retention, etc.)
- Measure and monitor business efficiency and profitability
- Capture and store diagnostic images
- Manage inventory and order medical supplies
All this not only helps your processes run more efficiently, saving you time and money, but it also ensures you have access to all the data you need in order to offer your clients and patients the best possible care through your veterinary practice.