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Experts Weigh In On The Past Decade’s Biggest Innovations

Veterinary professionals choose the breakthroughs they say have had the most positive impact on animal health care.

Experts Weigh In On The Past Decade’s Biggest Innovations

What do you think was the biggest or most important innovation in veterinary medicine in the last 10 years? 

Dr. Eleanor Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP, Vice Chair, Veterinary Innovation Council, professor and Dean Emerita, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University

“Virtual care/telemedicine is changing and will continue to substantially change the way we provide services by further enhancement of the long-held, current, and certainly viable model of in-person care (never to be replaced, only enriched). It extends the reach of the veterinarian in novel ways, further engages clients in care, a growing trend and client demand, provides avenues for job flexibility sought by many veterinarians, has been shown in human healthcare to decrease burnout that could influence wellness, a huge issue in veterinary medicine, can help address another priority issue in veterinary medicine, that of access to care, can contribute to another major issue in veterinary medicine today, that of optimal utilization of veterinary technicians in ways that could justify increased remuneration and provide more job satisfaction through greater utilization of their skills, provides viable revenue streams, drives more business to the clinic/hospital, has the potential to increase efficiency of practice while maintaining quality care, can appeal to younger generations, the digital natives, as they expect to use technologies, and helps drive digital technologies that will expand the remote capabilities for virtual care.”

Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer, Veterinary Practice Partners, Chairman, Veterinary Innovation Council

“The most important and widespread innovations in veterinary medicine in the past decade came about because of the digital revolution. While the basic technology predates the decade, the tools entered the mainstream and transformed veterinary practice only in the past 10 years. We now capture nearly all diagnostic images digitally, permitting us to share them with experts — including non-human experts (AI) — around the world, vastly improving their contribution to patient care. We collect, collate and analyze data around patient visits, service provision and financial transactions, illuminating and advancing our business models. Digital communications have allowed us to move closer to clients – to serve them on their terms — through email, text messaging, digital image sharing and mobile devices of all sorts, enabling the expansion of telehealth services. This part of the revolution has only just begun. It’s dangerous to predict the future, but there is no question it will be built on a digital foundation.”

Julie A. Churchill DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, Professor, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

“We have game-changing medications like Pimobendan that can improve cardiac contractility and extend the lifespan of pets with cardiac disease, and the significant strides we have taken in minimally invasive techniques, such as interventional radiology procedures. However, I think my answer for what I believe to be the most significant advances in the field of veterinary medicine is the recognition and development of tools to help veterinary care providers achieve and maintain wellbeing. Healthcare providers need to be able to self-assess and continue positive practices to maintain mental health and wellbeing so that we can effectively care for our colleagues and our patients. There has been a development of content and integration of wellbeing tools integrated into veterinary curricula, as well as a focus of committees at the World Small Animal Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Association.”

Brenda K. Feller, CVT, VTS (Anesthesia and Analgesia)

“In my world everything circles back to anesthesia and analgesia and my pick would be the innovation and implementation of pain management in veterinary medicine. It has changed the lives of animals and their owners, allowing veterinarians to extend not only the life of a pet but the quality of life for older pets. In the realm of anesthesia, we have access to a wide variety of drugs which allows for tailoring individual protocols for each patient’s need. This includes the routine use of local and regional blocks which allow our patients to calmly recover from anesthesia.”

Ellen Carozza, LVT, NOVA Cat Clinic, Arlington, Virginia

“…The evolution of medicine and advocacy of care for the feline species. Not only are we finally treating them as a separate entity in medicine but we are also finally recognizing the unique relationships they have with people they have captured the hearts of around the world. From the veterinary world creating specialized guidelines based on their medical needs to acknowledging their behaviors that make their species a delight and a welcomed challenge to work with and more, I can only see veterinary medicine and technology continually move forward to complement the health needs of the unique characteristics of the world’s most loved pet, the cat.”

Dana Varble, DVM, CAE, Chief Veterinary Officer, NAVC

“The advancement of ultrasound technology that allowed ultrasound machines to become smaller and less expensive made them much more widely available. I have been able to quickly find diagnostic answers for so many more pets — whether GP, exotics or ER — that I can’t imagine not having that technology nearby now. I think back to doing pericardiocentesis based on anatomy landmarks and ECG changes to guide me, and I am so glad that I can now easily see via ultrasound exactly what is happening. I can’t wait until this extends to other imaging modalities such as CT and MRI — it’s coming and I couldn’t be more optimistic!”

Darren Berger, DVM, DACVD, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Iowa State University

“The arrival of Isoxazolines and Cytopoint to the veterinary marketplace. Both products have fundamentally altered the way we think about therapy and dermatology cases. Given the frequency with which cases are presented for veterinary care with dermatologic issues, developments in this specialty have a substantial impact.”

Dr. Andy Roark DVM, MSc, Founder, Uncharted Veterinary Conference and DrAndyRoark.com

“The growth of remote access to PIMs, labs and other medical software. This access opens the door for virtual CSR [customer service representative] and management work, telemedicine from home, after-hours triage, and other quality-of-life benefits for veterinary teams. As with any innovation, remote access is a double-edged sword and can do more harm than good if misused. However, in our struggle to serve clients in a hyper-connected world while maintaining a healthy life outside the clinic, I don’t believe any other tool will be as vital. The key is to see remote access as a tool to pull in support for the practice, not one to increase our personal connection to it.”

Megan Brashear, BS, RVT, VTS (ECC), Purdue University Veterinary Hospital

“The most important innovation in the last 10 years — the veterinary technician! The expectations put on this team have increased exponentially and our role in both learning about and providing cutting-edge medical care has only grown. Our knowledge and skills must keep up with changing medicine, and our ability to adapt to new technology has to keep up with a quickly changing world. Credentialed veterinary technicians definitely add increased value to a veterinary hospital and we have seen demand for credentialed professionals skyrocket over the last 10 years. Veterinary medicine doesn’t work without them!”