Digital solutions in the veterinary field, and the impact of innovative products

Impressions by Hana Autin, representative of Piavita France.

Piavita attended the E-Vet Salon in Paris on the 24th of January 2019 and it was great!

The first edition of the 2.0 Vet congress was a great success and an eye-opener for everybody. Let us tell you about it!:

The attendees on site were mostly vets. Vets that treat dogs, cats, horses, cattle or any kind of animal really. Present were also researchers, biologists or bio-tech engineers, mathematicians and data scientists. Even human doctors or surgeons, and of course commercial partners, like us, to present their products to the attendees, but also their digital vision of the future.

And this is where our first surprise comes. We thought we would meet only technology-savvy colleagues that are coming to check out the latest techniques, but no!
About a quarter of the guests are either what we call tech-sceptical, or they actually don’t believe in tech for their jobs at all.

What we learnt was a lot to process, but extremely interesting and eye-opening. We watched presentations, conferences and debates and so many things came up, it was mind-blowing.

If you’re not familiar with big data, deep learning or artificial intelligence, you may have found the day long, but we were hooked!

Some exciting new tools were presented to us, by sponsors but also by scientific researchers.

A human surgeon told us how virtual and augmented reality are already being used by students to learn and to test their abilities and that this technology would probably come to vet students soon.

By placing the Augmented Reality Glasses on their head, the veterinary students, depending on where they are in school, will find themselves in different learning scenarios : and OR, a consultation room. They can then practice simple patient interrogation to very complicated surgeries. The idea is of course to train and practice virtually before an actual patient is on the operating table. The developers thought that the software would soon be available in the vet version as they only have to work on the software.

We also discovered algorithms capable of diagnosis and treatment plan decisions and mathematical formulas that could help in that field as well. A software was presented: it gave you a list of questions to answer about your patient (human at the moment) and depending on the answers you give, it would either ask you more precise questions or give you a diagnosis for your patient. The misdiagnosis is apparently less likely with this software than with just human brains working on the patient (up to 99 % of right diagnosis and associated treatment plan). This program is not yet available and still being developed.

Researchers were particularly excited by all of this, because it gives them so many new possibilities in their everyday work and in the fields they want to cover. We had a nice conversation with some veterinary researchers that loved the evolution in technology, because they could now research a lot of new parameters easily. New methods have arrived, less invasive, long term monitoring or smart objects have allowed new possibilities.

We talked about everything, from new digital business models to the latest medical e-gadget on the market. The great thing was, some really interesting questions came up during the day, mainly about doctors/vets ethics getting lost in all this tech. Obviously, part of the people on-site were worried about the future of their job, the changes that will come and if they will be replaced by machines altogether?

The general feeling was that, of course, jobs are changing with technological progress, but that the tech is there to help and assist and not replace.

Let us not forget emotions, that are very human and not yet generated by machines.

Tech is here already, it’s evolving faster than ever and new possibilities arise every day.

The 1st edition of E-Vet in France, has showed us that the veterinarian world is moving forward with every other field. It was absolutely necessary to ask all the questions everyone is thinking but no one dares ask…frightening questions.

The future is here, but let’s face it, it’s really new to everyone and nobody knows how to act around it yet. Embrace it? Accept that tech is not going anywhere and be one of the early ones to surrender. Doubt it? Use it at home and at work but with serious caution and care, maybe even checking manually that the machine isn’t wrong.

Or ignore it? Pretend technology isn’t a part of everyone’s life and try and avoid it as much as possible.

Our conclusion is that Tech, medical or not, needs to be treated like anything new : a lot of information, guidance and reassurance.

E-Vet was a wonderful experience for that reason. Geeks came to dream about the 3.0 future, sceptics came in search of guidance and left feeling reassured (or not!).

Tech is a train, and we’ve decided to jump on rather than miss it or worse, get run over by it. E-Vet has decided to jump on with us. Thank you guys and see you next year!

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