Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used in human medicine and it is expected to have a major influence on how veterinary practices develop and evolve in the future in order to keep pace and be competitive. As the eBay boss, Devin Wenig, said if your business does not have an artificial intelligence strategy going forward it’ll die in the world that is coming.
This is my take on what is happening in artificial intelligence in the world of veterinary medicine. There is an increased emphasis on genome analysis which I understand to mean that in the future veterinarians will be able to know the genetic make up of an individual animal and therefore know that animal’s predisposition to certain illnesses linked to their genetic inheritance. This will allow a vet to provide highly personalised proactive treatments. The information will also allow vets to better select the drugs suitable for that individual. And microbiome samples from parts of the body such as the gut and skin will allow veterinarians to assess disease-causing organisms present in the animal’s body.
Secondly, there will be an increased emphasis on wearable devices which wirelessly send information back to veterinary clinics and their owner. These devices can measure a wide range of parameters. For example, in human medicine there is talk about wearable devices for diabetics or people predisposed to diabetes and at an early stage of diabetes. In measuring a range of parameters, these devices can pick up the disease’s development and allow doctors to advise on treatment and lifestyle changes.
Because of the added amount of information available to veterinarians, artificial intelligence will be employed to analyse it. It is said that doctors will have access to 200 times more data than the human mind can process and therefore artificial intelligence is essential in order to draw accurate and precise conclusions from that data. Massive companies such as Google and Apple are the businesses which will develop these artificial intelligence analysis tools.
Veterinary schools will rely more on virtual reality training models. These are simulators which allow a trainee veterinarian to carry out procedures in virtual reality. It allows a trainee to become fully immersed in a simulated training environment. In addition, augmented reality will be used more often. This is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where objects in the real world are enhanced through artificial intelligence driven computer systems.
Another area where artificial intelligence in veterinary medicine will be developed is in the rapid, accurate and sensitive interpretation of diagnostic tools such as radiographs, ultrasound images MRI and CT scans. A lot of the standard clinical interpretation currently carried out by people will in the future be carried out by computers augmented with artificial intelligence processing.
There will also be a greater reliance on self-measuring vital signs using a home kit or an in-clinic medical kiosk. Artificial intelligence supported by augmented reality will be able to guide pet owners to take vital measurements on their companion animals with medical precision using an at-home kit or at in-clinic kiosks. This will greatly speed up veterinary care.
Once the information has been collected, a complete patient work up including a breakdown of predicted illnesses and treatment options is then sent to the veterinarian by a third party company engaged in analysing the data.
There are already a plethora of smart phone apps available to people to assist them in self-diagnosis. There are also smartphone apps for doctors such as Epocrates which has a range of useful features including finding drug information and calculating a patient’s BMI. These smartphone apps will be increasingly used by veterinarians.
The world is changing very rapidly, too fast for some. The geeks in league with alpha male entrepeneurs are running the world. I afraid that everyone has to get onboard including veterinarians if they are to remain competitive.
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