Helping Address the Veterinary Shortage through Swine Telemedicine
It doesn’t take more than a few conversations with animal owners in the United States to realize a growing concern amongst the animal-loving community. If you are lucky enough to personally know a veterinarian, you will undoubtedly have heard the same concerns from the professionals in the field. However, the veterinary shortage is not just something made up via word-of-mouth. There is a growing amount of evidence that the annual number of new veterinary graduates will be much less than the annual increase of veterinary job openings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 4,400 annual new employment openings are expected over the decade. Whereas, current information from the American Association of Veterinary Colleges 2021 report showed only about 3,300 graduates from US-based veterinary colleges. While this difference itself may not seem too extreme, one must also consider that not all graduates from veterinary school will decide to enter the veterinary profession. This information also aligns with a recent study reported by Mars Veterinary Health, which claims that there is an expected shortage of nearly 15,000 veterinarians by 2030. This equates to a 16% shortage of veterinarians to fill the needs of the animal health sector. The recent COVID pandemic really put an emphasis on the already stretched animal health community. There were reports from many pet owners waiting weeks to months just to take their pet in for routine vaccinations. Now that the situation has eased, veterinarians are still trying to get back to normal scheduling wait times.
While the pet community is a much larger portion of the animal health market, the concern amongst farmers and ranchers in rural areas is also increasing every year. The predicted shortage of veterinarians to serve food-producing animals has been a concern for over a decade with articles dating back to the early 2000’s. In recent years, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has been tasked with putting together a list of areas deemed to have a shortage of veterinary services. These shortage areas are eligible for veterinarians to obtain money from one of two government programs, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program and the Veterinary Services Grant Program. For those who believe the veterinary shortage is isolated to certain areas of the United States, a quick glance at the Veterinary Services Shortage Situations Map will show that there are 228 shortage areas across 47 states for the fiscal 2022 calendar year. The government continues to support these programs each year as they recognize the potential risks the veterinary shortage places on the nation’s food supply.
While the government and veterinary colleges work to address the long-term shortage, what options are available for veterinarians and producers in present day who are tasked with caring for a large number of animals on a reduced workforce? Swine veterinarians in particular are commonly responsible for the health across thousands of animals, dozens of locations and sometimes even multiple states. With biosecurity being a top concern for pork producers, veterinarians are asked to uphold downtime requirements after visiting sick animals and, combined with the extensive range of farms a single veterinarian needs to cover, this means it is becoming increasingly difficult for swine veterinarians to continue “business as usual.”
So what is a veterinarian to do? Telemedicine has become much more acceptable in the wake of the pandemic and software companies are stepping up to fill this void. EveryPig, Inc is one such company. EveryPig’s software allows the producer to input daily information that can be quickly evaluated by the veterinarian in real time, on their own schedule. But, the information doesn’t just sit there, waiting to be viewed. Smart algorithms are also constantly scanning inputs and pointing out potential issues that may be overlooked during a busy day.
Another particularity of EveryPig is the ability for data to be reported and pictures and video to all be uploaded into one cohesive location. Veterinarians should not be wasting their time searching their inbox to locate photos in one email, data in another and still having to call the producer to find a missing piece of information. EveryPig puts all of this at your fingertips and even provides assistance in monitoring all the farms.
EveryPig is allowing the swine veterinarian the opportunity to spend time on larger preventative and strategical health concerns while still being able to address the concerns of the individual producer on a real-time basis, all without having to spend 24 hours a day behind a windshield.
Are you ready to see how EveryPig and telemedicine can help your business?