Recent economic projections for the global veterinary services market calculate a compound annual growth rate of 5.7% between 2021 to 2028 and sales of almost $160 billion by 2028. Whether veterinary services are being provided for a companion animal or for a commercial farm, customers expect their veterinarian to be aware of, and offer, the latest treatments available.
Advances in human medicine and veterinary medicine tend to be closely linked, so it’s no surprise that trends in both industries look similar. Human healthcare providers and veterinarians are offering innovative treatments based on the latest technology, making greater use of location-independent telehealth, and collecting and analyzing big data to improve efficiency and effectiveness of treatment throughout the industry.
Telemedicine has been in use for decades for monitoring the health of animals for meat and milk production. But for companion animals, the increased focus and expanded access to veterinary care through telemedicine came to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During global pandemic lockdowns, human healthcare providers and patients grew more comfortable with consulting and receiving care remotely. And just like in human medicine, veterinary telehealth services for diagnosis and treatment have become a desirable option and a preference for many pet owners. In support of this growing trend, the American Veterinary Medical Association published updated guidelines in 2021 to help veterinarians increase the integration of telehealth into their practices.
Telehealth is also an important tool for collaboration between primary veterinary care providers and a growing number of veterinary specialists. Increasing access to specialized services may include video conferencing between the primary veterinarian, specialist and client or rapid sharing between veterinarians of medical records, test results and imaging for real-time treatment support.
As of 2020, the AVMA recognized 13,539 active board-certified specialists, under 41 different veterinary specialties, but these numbers are growing. In May 2022, the AMVA granted provisional recognition of a new veterinary specialty in nephrology and urology.
Predictive genetic testing
Advances in genetic testing allow veterinary primary care providers and specialists to predict an animal’s risk of developing specific diseases. Through predictive testing, veterinarians can determine which animals are at risk and prescribe preventive measures and lifestyle changes that may lessen the symptoms or even prevent the onset of a disease.
One of the newest screening tests available was released in September 2022 to predict, with 98% accuracy, the likelihood of Labrador Retrievers suffering a rupture of the cruciate ligament. This disabling disease has a genetic risk factor of 62% based on multiple gene variations; data show that between 5% and 10% of Labrador Retrievers will develop a rupture.
Artificial intelligence and advanced medical devices for diagnosis and treatment
- Predictive testing can only be accomplished through advanced data analysis by artificial intelligence (AI). AI’s complex algorithms for diagnostic tools and med-tech breakthroughs of innovative medical devices are advancing veterinary care at a rapid pace. Here are some examples:
- One company says it has developed an algorithm to diagnose chronic kidney disease in cats up to two years in advance thanks to AI that analyzes the results of routine lab work with a special algorithm.
- Veterinarians are using oral pill cameras to complete non-invasive gastrointestinal diagnostic imaging.
- A microchip attached to a bone can collect and share data about the bone’s health and ability to heal after injury.
- Owners of companion animals are open to the use of wearable devices to monitor their pet’s health.
The animal ortho-prosthetics industry is another fast-developing area of the veterinary industry that incorporates innovative technology. Market growth for animal prostheses is projected to increase by a compounded annual growth rate of 7.1% between 2022 and 2027. There is even an American reality TV show featuring a veterinary orthotist who engineers and manufactures prosthetic limbs for animals using a 3-D printer.
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With the demands for veterinary services expected to rise in the coming years, it is crucial for veterinary practices to remain vigilant in maintaining safety standards. Preventing the spread of infection– especially of zoonotic diseases–is a top priority, and one of the major lines of defense against infection is an adequate stock of quality personal protection equipment for your staff.
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