fbpx
Business , Viewpoints

Experts weigh in on the biggest changes coming to the veterinary industry

Artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine and an increasing minimum wage ranked among our experts’ movers and shakers.

Experts weigh in on the biggest changes coming to the veterinary industry
Photo by Nejron Photo/shutterstock.com

Change is the only constant for anyone working in a veterinary practice or related business. While this is true for many industries in a technology driven world, it hits veterinary professionals particularly hard as they feel the pressure to not only stay up to date on the latest tools and techniques for treating patients, but also all of the moving pieces related to maintaining a profitable business. That’s why it is critical to keep an eye on the latest trends and use discretion to determine what could be a flash in the pan and what could be a game-changing innovation.

We asked several experts from various corners of the industry to weigh in on emerging technologies, shifting roles and more. Below, find their answers to one simple question:

What’s the biggest change you expect to see in the veterinary profession in the next 5 years?

Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition), Editor in Chief, Today’s Veterinary Nurse

“The veterinary nursing profession has been working to increase utilization and recognition of the role of the veterinary nurse/veterinary technician, while standardizing our credential and clarifying the valuable role veterinary nurses/technicians play on the veterinary healthcare team. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these factors have come into sharper focus as veterinary nurses have become the outward facing team member in an attempt to keep patients, colleagues and pet owners safe. Through telemedicine, curbside interactions and the visible team member during this pandemic, veterinary nurses have experienced increased utilization of their skills and knowledge and pet owners have seen the veterinary nurse role and have a deeper, clearer understanding of veterinary nurses as a valued and respected member of the veterinary team. I believe this may be the silver lining for the veterinary profession resulting from this unprecedented pandemic experience. Over the next 5 years, the veterinary nurse will be utilized appropriately for our skills, knowledge and credential. Pet owners will come to understand that the veterinary healthcare team functions similarly to a human healthcare team, and that each role on the team strengthens the others — which in turn results in better care for their pet. The overarching result: proper utilization, improved morale, improved pay and benefits, and better medicine.”

Deborah Linder, DVM, MS, DACVN, Research Assistant Professor, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University

“The biggest change I expect to see is the incorporation of more technology and telehealth into our profession. I think we’ve learned a lot during this pandemic and seen some of the positives of technology that can be woven into our regular practice and improve the care we provide to our patients. As chair of the One Health Committee at Tufts, this topic has been an important one for us. One aspect we’ve trying to provide education on is the broader definition of One Health that includes not only zoonotic disease, but also animals as models of spontaneously occurring disease (e.g., studying kidney disease that occurs naturally in dogs and cats) and human-animal interaction with the impact of that on the health and well-being of both people and their pets. We recently created an interdisciplinary One Health course at Tufts and published a manuscript on our development and the impact on students, so I hope others can learn from this too.”

“I think we’ve learned a lot during this pandemic and seen some of the positives of technology that can be woven into our regular practice and improve the care we provide to our patients.”

Allison McIntyre, Executive Director, Veterinary Virtual Care Association

“As a result of ceded veterinary expertise to pseudo-experts and random Google searches, the profession has found itself in a compromising situation where we are perplexed that people don’t come to us for answers but yet we have not gone to where they are. In the next 5 years will see the entire veterinary profession evolve and realize that our expertise and knowledge is needed outside of the confines of our clinic walls. Veterinary medicine will become fully accessible where people are in the moment they need assistance. Virtual care will finally bridge the gap to care and appropriately compensate professionals. This will require a tremendous shift in how we delivery veterinary care today, but is absolutely necessary to ensure the proper care of animals in the future.”

Beckie Mossor, RVT, Co-host, Veterinary Viewfinder podcast

“With the unpredictable nature of the world today and the seemingly daily changes, it is hard even to begin to fathom where the veterinary industry will be in 5 years. There are so many areas of growth and advancement in our profession. For a 5-year projection, I think we will see some of the most extreme changes and progress within our industry around technology. Telemedicine is going to continue to become a foundational aspect of patient care and follow-up. But on a higher-level technology, in general, it is going to become more robust within the industry. Our upcoming generation of clients are using technology as an extension of self and will expect the same of the medical professionals in their lives. I also foresee technology as a driver for education and training on a much higher level than it is being used at this point. The technology exists to significantly advance the way we learn, connect and engage.”

“Our upcoming generation of clients are using technology as an extension of self and will expect the same of the medical professionals in their lives.”

Jennifer Ogeer, DVM, MSc, MBA, MA, Vice President Medical Affairs, Antech Diagnostics

“The three things, in my view, that will have the greatest impact on the way we care for companion animals include: (1) artificial intelligence, (2) telemedicine and (3) the expanded role of the veterinary nurse. Blending AI with traditional diagnostics gives veterinarians an incredibly powerful opportunity to treat disease before it occurs. RenalTech predicts chronic kidney disease in cats two years before onset. More tools will follow, and their predictive power will fundamentally improve the care we provide pets. The pandemic accelerated recognition of telemedicine as an effective, convenient way to deliver care: it will play a deeper role in modern veterinary practices, facilitating triage to in-person consultation while providing others guidance from a trusted source vs. Google. Reference laboratory diagnostics can uniquely support telemedicine with advanced workflows that offer immediate, virtual connections between veterinarian, specialist and diagnostic professionals, supporting efficient, cost-effective best-practice medicine. Finally, veterinary nurses have an integral role in today’s successful practices. As technology elevates standards of care for pets, they — like nurse practitioners in human health — will assume more responsibilities that deepen their immeasurable value to general and specialty practices.”

Gary Richter, MS, DVM, Owner, Holistic Veterinary Care

“Medicine, veterinary and human, is on the precipice of some very significant changes over the next few years.  Some of the biggest things I see coming are the widespread application of regenerative medicine as well as medical cannabis for animals. Regenerative medicine is at the leading edge of medical research.  The field includes gene therapy such as CRISPR or other technologies, stem cell therapies, peptide therapies, etc.  Regenerative medicine utilizes the body’s own mechanisms for growth and healing to repair damaged tissues and even reverse genetic diseases.  I cannot overstate how this field is going to change the entire practice of medicine.  If you are interested, I would suggest people have a look a company called Samumed and check out some of the research projects they have in phase II and III right now.  What they are doing has to be seen to be believed. Medical cannabis is also right on the edge of becoming mainstream medicine.  The FDA has already approved a cannabis based medicine (Epidiolex) for humans and more will be coming.  Being able to access and manipulate the endocannabinoid system has the potential to improve quality of life for patients with a wide variety of conditions including pain, seizures, anxiety, neuropathy, GI disease, etc.  Public opinion and the trend we are seeing in individual states makes the federal legalization of cannabis as a medicine inevitable.  I’m not sure if it will happen in the next 5 years, but it will definitely happen and when it does, the pharmaceutical industry is going to spend billions in research to develop cannabis medications.”

“I cannot overstate how this field [of regenerative medicine] is going to change the entire practice of medicine.”

Andy Roark, DVM, MS, Host, Cone of Shame YouTube show

“‘Biggest’ is a tricky word, and 5 years isn’t very long at the profession level. The most visible change I expect is continued adoption of digital communication and telemedicine from progressive vet practices. The genie is out of the bottle here, I think. Clients don’t want to come in unless they have to and time is most peoples’ most valuable asset. Look for innovation and growth here. The most important change will be rising wages and benefits (with increased responsibility) for support staff. Competition for trained support staff in corporate medicine, combined with a national discussion of a $15 minimum wage, will have a large impact on how practices recruit and retain technicians. I expect to see technicians doing more, their production being tracked like veterinarian production traditionally has been, and their earnings increasing.”

Matthew Salois, Ph.D, Chief Economist, AVMA

“In the next 5 years the face of the veterinary profession is going to look radically different as the demographics of the veterinary workforce continue to undergo a tectonic shift. Veterinarians of the Boomer generation will continue to retire at a record pace, while new Millennial veterinarians continue in rapid fashion to make up a greater share of the workforce. The great gender shift that has been underway for decades will reach new heights as soon four out of five veterinarians will be women. With these changes will come a shift in the whole mindset and culture of the veterinary profession. New ideas about the delivery of veterinary care, the acceptance and use of digital technology and even entirely new notions about what it means to be a veterinarian will be different. Increased attention to principles of diversity, inclusion and belonging will need to take center stage and be part of the growth strategy for every veterinary practice.”

“Increased attention to principles of diversity, inclusion and belonging will need to take center stage …”

Dana Varble, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer, NAVC

“We often talk about technology ‘disrupting’ veterinary medicine, citing examples of other industries, such as transportation and hotel industries, dramatically changing in recent years. As veterinarians, we often forget that we have a distinct advantage, in that our clients are for the most part devoted, loyal and quite happy! If nothing else, the pandemic has allowed us to see (both in good and bad ways) that the human-to-human connection we make in an exam room is as important if not more important than the veterinarian to patient bond that is created. Our clients miss coming to see us and interacting with their animals with us! Veterinary medicine is in a great position to have technology improve our existing practices. Everything from digital cytology, telemedicine and teleconsultation will boom in the next few years as we all realize how much more we can bring to our patients by integrating technology that is becoming increasingly easy to use into our typical activities.”

Seth Wallack, DVM, DACVR, CEO, Vetology Innovations

“Veterinarians will see more revolutionary technology developments than the 20 years before it. I envy those at the beginning of their careers because what took me decades to learn will be eclipsed by a new veterinarian in two years or less. Technology in medicine will continue to dramatically accelerate the knowledge base of the profession as a whole, and the use of artificial intelligence to screen large numbers of radiographs — alerting veterinarians when something needs a closer look — will allow veterinarians to better leverage their time and deliver better patient care.”

“Veterinarians will see more revolutionary technology developments than the 20 years before it.”

Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, Executive Director of Education, VerticalVet

“Individualized, on-demand, and direct veterinary care and products — the next generation of pet parents is demanding access to veterinary services where, when and how they want. This means in-home, online and readily accessible locations in mass retailers will be the winners over the next decade. Direct-to-consumer food and supplies will continue to surge along with specialist care. Consolidation will intensify, shifting economic, research and political power from individual veterinarians to a handful of corporate entities. General practices will need to transition into ‘specialized generalists’ to retain client loyalty and remain relevant in an increasingly sophisticated marketplace. Pets are the biggest winners, as expertise, access and affordability of care expand.”

[2
[2
2]
2]
MENU