Letter to dvm360: Delighted by the drones, and "looking forward" to the future

July 6, 2016
Michael R. Haas, VMD, MS

What used to be a far-off dream is now a brilliant dream come true.

When I was a veterinary student in the early 1980s, "drone" was something a toxicology lecturer did on and on. In my first years of ambulatory equine and bovine practice, I ran a packed cell volume (PCV) on the farm by taping the blood tubes to the fan of my truck engine, a resourceful trick I learned from one of my mentors.

What a glorious ride it has been, perched on the crest of the wave that has swept us forward in medical knowledge and technological advancement over the span of my career. I left the large animal milieu for companion practice decades ago, but my colleagues in that realm today obtain blood analyses in minutes on a hand held device. They can diagnose pregnancy in cattle and horses with the aid of portable ultrasound. The advent of digital technology has revolutionized our profession and I feel fortunate to have been a first hand witness and beneficiary. 

I was intrigued and delighted when I came across Rolan Tripp, DVM's insightful article on the use of drones (hovering aircraft, not loquacious professors) as tools available to today's practicioner, holding great promise for the future. More than once, back in the day, I found myself at a remote outpost ministering to a sick patient and wishing I had in hand a particular medicine or implement with which to render care. The idea that today I could simply punch a few buttons on my cell phone and direct that bottle of calcium be zooped to me pronto via drone is stupefying! I can only imagine the bewildered countenances of some of my long-since-departed farmer clients if they could somehow be retrieved from the beyond to bear witness to such an event. 

Dr. Tripp conjured up cunning uses for drones that never occured to me– aids in diagnosing equine lameness, vaccination of animals at pasture and wildlife observation, to name a few. One wonders what other modern-day apparatuses might be brought to bear in the delivery of our services. Thank you for this fascinating look look ahead– given the accelerated pace of evolution that I have been priveleged to witness over the last 35 years, I think it behooves us to continue this forward-looking perspective. The best way to predict one's future, it is said, is to create it. In that spirit I will "look forward" to more of Dr. Tripp's creative glimpses into the future of our great profession. 

Michael R. Haas, VMD, MS

Medical Director

VCA AVH Animal Hospital

Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania