Digital healthcare advancements are obvious when we look at human healthcare because we experience it everywhere. At the GP clinic, the pharmacist or even the dentist – we all take part in connected health services through our national or private health providers. In Australia, we have MyHealthRecord and insurance providers connecting us to a myriad of health services. And our data is equally accessible by those providing us care. The revolution has emphasised that we, as patients, interact with many different medical services beyond our own GP.

Providing world-class service for our pets and animals

This is also true for our animals, but for some reason we have mostly ignored that reality. As vets we assume, we have the full picture but if you look at any dog or cat in your clinic, you are only seeing a glimpse of that animal’s life. You observe it as an adult with no knowledge of its youth before it came to you. When the clients move to another city the record stops and begins fresh at the new clinic. An emergency vet would have no quick way to access critical patient information for that pet that got rushed in at 2am. The health data for animals is pervasive but often unavailable to vets and services that require it. How many times have we waited for breeder certificates? What about the time and cost spent repeating tests and re-entering information that is not readily available?

A world with no patient-data disconnect

If we could re-design a system that would connect accurate information for every health event in an animal’s life, what would it look like?

Firstly, it would have to accompany the animal everywhere it went – like a collar. And it can’t be held by the owner in case they are separated. It would have to be something implantable, because animals lose their collars and their owners too. We’ll have to call this an implantable limitless-storage microchip, which would store every piece of information from the moment the animal is born, for example first puppy vaccinations and desexing certificates.

Imagine this microchip holds pertinent information like vaccine certificates for zoonotic disease e.g. Rabies or Hendra Virus. Or even warnings like allergies or ‘diabetic cat’. These are all extremely important pieces of medical data that we, as vets, would want any attending clinician to have immediate access to. But how can we trust the authenticity of the information? For that want to make sure that the data being applied to the microchip is accurate and true. That means removing human errors – so no manual data entry by vets. We can employ technology for that, like image capture apps, text extraction, 2-way integration with practice software for patient and owner details. By employing technology for data entry, we can speed up our existing systems and automate even further.

Secondly, we would have to provide the user with some proof of existence. As “the only source of truth is the original clinical source” we must provide the attending vet with a time-machine to look back to when that piece of data was created.

To recap, the proposed solution is an implantable limit-less storage, time-machine microchip with automated capture of accurate data... Does this sound impossible? Or even improbable?

Enhancing existing capabilities to solve problems

At VetDB, we created a system that leverages the animal’s existing microchip. The system allows any vet to scan the microchip and see the important pieces of medical data. Each piece of data is verifiable with timestamps, and when the vet uses the system, we automate every piece of data entry. We started with the vaccination record and locked it to the microchip. By scanning the microchip, you can see the animal’s details and vaccination history. You can also apply a new vaccination in under 10 seconds. VetDB records the batch number, sets the due dates and even gives a PDF copy to the owner. All of this without any manual data entry by the vet.

So far, VetDB has recorded over 20,000 vaccine vials, locking them to the animal’s existing microchip. VetDB provides horse vets in NSW and Queensland with verifiable data so they can instantly verify the horse’s Hendra vaccination status. They can even vaccinate a batch of 100 horses as quickly as one scans groceries at the check-out.

The integration with ezyVet further allows each microchip scan to verify the patient and owner’s details within the ezyVet practice management system, reminding staff that if there are any important contact information missing.

Making pet owners’ lives easier

Pet owners usually assume there’s a bigger practicality to their pet’s microchip. A common misconception is that it works like a GPS tracker, so they are often disappointed when they find out there isn’t more to it other than being just an entry in a registry database. VetDB adds a practical element for the pet owner as they never have to worry about physical certificates again.