We’re gathering so much data these days that it is perhaps beyond comprehension in terms of bytes. It’s a frightening amount, but the reality is that the technology that generates the data also gives us the ability to analyze and gain insights at the same time. Data scientists are hot property right now, earning really good money.

So as vets, how can we interact with this data and what will it do for animal welfare and our businesses? Our practice management systems (PMS) should be a mine of information right? What’s the reality of getting good data and engaging your PMS provider in actively providing it for you? I’ll leave that question hanging out there.

So what options do we have?

For this blog I’m going to focus on that last idea. In veterinary research, EBVM is our gold standard aspiration, but it’s time consuming and in most cases the statistical power of the research is not great. The number of animals in each study is just too small. So what about the vet groups or insurers that aggregate huge amounts of data? Let’s look at one example.

When Banfield speaks, we should all listen. They publish their State of Pet Health Report annually in the spring and you should read it. Here’s a link to the 2016 report.

If you’re analyzing and publishing the data on 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats from nearly 1,000 Pet hospitals, the phrase, “in our experience” takes on a whole new meaning. Ok, so you could argue that it’s a very particular view of the world and being North American, you could argue that it’s not relevant. Well, two things; firstly, the statistical power of 3 million pet consults and secondly, with the possible exception of the regional parasite burden, why would the UK be that different? It just isn’t.

What insights can we draw straight away? Pages 8-11 handily lay out the disease and age profiles of the Banfield pet population. You could design a preventative health strategy for your patients on this data alone! It’s phenomenal data and it’s freely shared.

What about our own large vets groups in the UK? Pets At Home and Vets4Pets publish two reports annually and currently don’t share the same level of data as Banfield. They make interesting reading though and, yes, they’re designed for PR activity, but there are insights to be taken and their aspirations are laudable.

So here’s my Monday Call To Action:

  • Read the reports
  • Then consider what insights you can draw from them and how you can turn these insights in to business and health drivers for your clinic.
  • Oh, and don’t forget to challenge your PMS provider to deliver on the data you hold yourself.

If you need help getting to grips with the power of big data, or just the data that your own clinic could be sitting on, then click this link and start the conversation.

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