This year promises the continuation of valuable digital technological trends. There will be a new iPhone and there will be a lot of talk about big data. The flying car will probably not arrive nor will the true version of the hoverboard.
Digital technology will certainly benefit the veterinary world. It might even move the veterinarian world up to date with all other worlds. We’ve listed here some of the chief digital veterinarian trends for 2016 and beyond, largely based on the excellent ebook How Digital Technology Is Revolutionizing Animal Health.
Some of the listed trends have been present in some form or another, but this year they fully integrate with both veterinarian practices and pet owners. This happens just in time, as some estimates state that 60% of all pet-care sales will ultimately be facilitated by digital channels, with 20% of sales occurring online by 2018 (versus 10% today).
1. Big Data lands on the veterinary world. Okay, maybe it’s not exactly big data; but the reality is that farmers sit on a lot of data concerning their animals that remains unharnessed to the fullest potential. For example, the ability to efficiently mine and share the effects of hormones or what diseases are affecting pigs in different regions could be a game changer. Companies like Bayer HealthCare Animal have introduced apps that allow farmers and veterinarians to track body conditioning using photos of animals; these apps can then assesses the animals for potential signs of diseases.
2. Communication tools shrink the veterinary world. Even if data is leveraged, communication needs to be nimble in a global market. Connectivity between pet owners and veterinarians will be fully forged as well in 2016. Digital tech like Pet+Pixie fosters seamless communications, promising to streamline the pet health industry long fragmented and paper-based. These tools will enhance everything from the timely delivery of vaccines to sending alarms on emerging illnesses that threaten livestock. Just as important, they can prevent global disease outbreaks.
3. Wearables take foot in the veterinary world. This trend was inevitable, between the reality of microchipped pets and the unreality of such dazzling gadgets like Fitbit and Apple Watch. Pet wearables, along with apps, allow users to monitor such pet health habits as exercise and nutritional intake. Even socialization and playtime can be monitored. Lastly, built-in calendars can transmit alerts for routine care like as vaccines or heartworm prevention.
4. Pet insurance becomes seamless in the veterinary world. Pet insurance has been around for a while, indeed, but it hasn’t exactly been Bo-care (naming it after President Obama’s dog, Bo). In fact, Bo-care has been as cumbersome as Obamacare in many respects. However, 2016 promises to offer the same advanced operations for pet insurance as with human insurance. For example, pet insurer Trupanion allows veterinary hospitals to file claims and be reimbursed directly by the company. Bo knows insurance.
5. Video comes to the veterinary world. Video rules the internet, from entertainment to marketing. By 2018, an estimated 79% of internet traffic will be video content. Why shouldn’t video rule the world of pets? Video will at least modernize the relationship between veterinarians and their clients. Vet On Demand, as an illustration, provides virtual visits between veterinarians and pet owners. Apps like Fetch are interactive, diagnostic tools that bridge the first lines of concern of pet owners.
The digital technologies mentioned should make 2016 a very good year for pet owners, veterinarians and animal producers. And certainly for savvy marketers and entrepreneurs, since the pet industry is currently a $58 billion industry. Maybe the flying car won’t arrive this year, but at this rate pigs will fly.