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AI-powered diagnostics providing individualized patient care

dvm360dvm360 February 2024
Volume 55
Issue 2
Pages: 43

New technologies like Vetscan Imagyst® and Virtual Laboratory by Zoetis can help practitioners diagnose and treat patients rapidly

Sponsored by Zoetis

On a recent episode of PetConnections, Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, sat down with Carl Clary, DVM; Shelli Wolfe, DVM, MBA; Lisa Hann, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM); and Cory Penn, DVM, to discuss how incorporating certain technologies can improve the efficiency of veterinary diagnostics and patient care.

“Many families are adopting pets…and with that comes an increased case load,” Penn said. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the veterinary industry had to reassess many of its systems and standards to accommodate the higher number of patients coming into the clinic. Fortunately, in the age of rapidly improving technology and new uses for artificial intelligence (AI), it is now easier than ever to diagnose and assist patients through customized approaches.

Incorporating in-house diagnostics

The Zoetis Vetscan Imagyst® is an in-clinic, multi-use platform that uses deep learning AI and digital microscopy solutions to help diagnose patients within hours or even minutes. Although a practitioner may have a diagnosis in mind, having the technology to back up their opinion can be beneficial. “Vetscan Imagyst is a game changer for my confidence in the way I practice,” Clary said. “We have a lot better client adherence with those results because they can see it. We’re such a visual society; if you can’t see it, then you may not believe it.”

Having a visual reference helps convey the diagnosis itself to the client, as well as the importance of treatment. “Vetscan Imagyst has an iPad that you can take into the room and show the client in the examination room proof of hookworms, whipworms, or giardia. Rather than just watching and waiting, they’ll go ahead and begin to treat,” Wolfe said.

Technology like Vetscan Imagyst also benefits the practitioner directly. “The footprint of diagnostic technology has gotten smaller,” Wolfe said. “Space is precious in a veterinary clinic. These machines are now very small and don’t take up much room in the lab.” In-house diagnostic technology also enables faster results. A treatment plan can be formed earlier, which saves time and headache for both the practitioner and the client, and the patient’s health can improve more rapidly.

Individualized care with AI

Although many cases are cut-and-dry, AI can produce diagnostic results that require further understanding or action. Veterinarians can use technology platforms like the Zoetis Virtual Laboratory to contact a large network of board-certified specialists. “Zoetis has a consultation service that is easily accessible on a platform where veterinarians can request consultations by email or video call,” Hann said. “We still need that additional step for certain cases where specialists on the consultation service can work with general practitioners to come up with a plan.”

“We want to follow those life guidelines set forth by the American Animal Hospital Association, and that gives us a baseline for each individual pet moving forward,” Penn said. “When we do a diagnostic workup, ideally on these recommended timelines, whether that’s yearly or every six months…we can know what is normal for that pet.” Consulting reference ranges helps inform veterinarians on whether the results are within a standard range or require additional assistance from a specialist.

Zoetis Diagnostics further brings individualized care into the clinic by providing a written report after each specialist consultation. This can help the veterinarian analyze the results and relay the information to the client accordingly while also informing the pet parent that a specialist was involved. “I don’t know [whether pet owners are] aware that there are specialists available in veterinary medicine or what that provides beyond the general practitioner,” Hann said. “We’re all working together for that pet to get the best care possible.”

Spectrum of care is a buzz phrase that has been highlighted in the veterinary industry, and tailored approaches to diagnostics and treatment assist the practitioner in delivering the best care to each patient. By incorporating technology and AI that saves time, stress, and financial waste for both the practitioner and pet parent, the veterinary world can take on its increased number of unique cases.

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