I know I’ve been remiss in offering blog entries lately but Im pretty sure you’ll forgive me given that I’ve been up to my eyeballs working on my brand new veterinary practice. This, amid all kinds of challenges, not the least of which involves keeping up with the rapid pace of veterinary design and technology.
Indeed, the speed of innovation in veterinary practices these days is such that anyone who doesn’t work constantly to maintain their facility and invest in equipment every few months is probably out of step with modern veterinary medicine. And no pet owner wants a veterinarian who doesn’t keep up, right?
Even if you’re the kind of person who needs their veterinary costs to remain as reasonable as possible (we get that), you almost certainly understand there’s a lot to be said about the quality of a veterinary facility’s tools. Whether we’re talking about acquiring fancy new contraptions (like lasers to treat ailing joints) or keeping the fundamentals up to speed with the times (consider X-rays and anesthesia equipment), a veterinarian’s devices say a lot about the kind of medicine they practice.
Which explains why I spent my first year as a new practice owner designing a newly renovated hospital, securing permitting for these improvements (took us six months!), selecting all manner of hardware and gadgets (the fun part), and (most frustratingly of all) sourcing bank loans to make these brilliant things happen.
Regrettably, the process has been more like a tough, solitary trudge through sludge than a walk in the park with a dog by my side. But now that we’re about to break ground, I’m starting to get psyched about all the fun new machines and gadgets (not to mention all that stainless steel) that’s currently being haggled over with suppliers across the country.
It’s going to look so good! Best of all, it’s going to take our clinical standards to another level. I can’t wait! But it’s going to take some time. Until I have gorgeous pics to show (give me a few more months), I thought I’d offer you a slideshow of on-their-way bits of equipment (both simple and complex) along with a couple of items I’m eyeballing covetously for the future:
#1 Radiosurgical unit
I love this thing. I priced both CO2 lasers and radiosurgical devices and felt like the radiosurgery allowed me to do everything I couldn’t do as well with a scalpel … without enduring the onerous expense of the CO2 laser.
Sure, I can’t say I perform “laser surgery,” but most surgeons agree that the new radiosurgery devices now offer similar levels of sculpting precision, bleeding control and decreased recovery time. Not that I’ll ever stop using a scalpel (there are plenty of reasons to rely on cold hard steel), but making this alternative available offers a much-needed enhancement to my surgical protocols.
#2 Plexiglass cage fronts
This might seem like rather a pedestrian bit of equipment but plexiglass doors (instead of the typical stainless steel bars) does lots of things for you:
It limits fractured teeth in fractious dogs (my own Tika has four fractured canine teeth from her days behind bars), increases patient visibility (for greater safety), makes sure paws don’t get stuck (rare but possible) and keeps teensy kittens within. Best of all, it keeps barkers from disturbing other hospital inhabitants (as much). The noise reduction alone makes plexiglass well worth its extra expense.
#3 Large dog bathtub
OMG, can I tell you how much I love, love, love the new bathtub I just ordered? This stainless steel contraption, armed with a big dog-ready ramp, tall sides, no-slip liner and industrial spray nozzle, will take its place near the back of our new kennel space. Only Mickey and Camila (our intrepid bathers) will be happier than me to see this thing shipped in.
#4 Cryosurgical pen
This tiny tool is amazing. It removes warts, eyelid masses, skin tags, tiny hemangiomas and other benign masses with incredible precision. The best part, however, is that it can do this in the exam room without anesthesia. (OK, so maybe the eyelid masses will get some sleepy juice.)
Since I’m one of those veterinarians who won’t anesthetize for cosmetic procedures (on principle), this thing has the power to make my pet owners really happy. And this way I won’t have to sedate and inject local anesthesia just for a tiny thing that happens to want to bleed every time the groomer shaves too close.
Sure, it’s a little pricey for its size but this thing is probably worth its weight in gold for all the joy it will bring. This one I’m receiving next week!
#5 Dental table
Most of you may not realize how important it is to have a separate area in a hospital where dentistry takes place. You may also be (understandably) ignorant of the many highly specific tools we require to perform top-quality veterinary dentistry. To wit, I’ve just selected an industrial grade veterinary dental sink (table) that’s made exactly for the purpose of keeping pets suspended ergonomically and out of the wet. What’s more, I’ve bought an amazing spotlight to help us clean mouths, extract teeth and perform gorgeous restorations with glorious precision.
#6 Liposuction machine
I know it sounds weird but I’m after this awesome thing my dermatologist has. It’s a small-scale liposuction machine I’ll use to reduce the size of benign lipomas. So very cool. Especially since I hate to anesthetize patients just to remove these benign masses. Moreover, this method is described in the veterinary literature as a less side effect-prone and more effective alternative to traditional surgery. And yet this procedure is not yet a common thing in vet practices. As soon as my derm retires his device he promises he’ll sell it to me. Can’t wait!
#7 Dental software
I’m really proud of owning a practice that’s always been at the forefront of dental technology. In fact, we’ve had digital dental X-rays available for our patients since 2005. Unfortunately, our software is also ten years old. It's slow and acts up, which increases our patients' time under anesthesia.
Luckily, the new dental X-ray software available is now super-quick, reducing time under anesthesia and thereby augmenting our ability to offer full-mouth X-rays (safely) to all our patients at an affordable price. It also makes diagnosing very specific dental issues way easier than ever before. Best of all, it’ll make taking whole mouth X-rays a snap compared to how we do it now. Unfortunately, this “little bit” of software costs $8,500. Ouch!
#8 Fully electronic medical records
OK so this is one every practice should have. Unfortunately, I bought a practice where a so called “paperless” system of medical records was deemed too newfangled and difficult to adopt. Seeing as the two other vets I employ are in their seventies (though trucking along nicely, I must say), it’s been difficult to make the change. Now that we’re in 2016, however, I can’t wait any longer. Electronic medical records are far superior in their ability to keep more thorough, more secure patient records. It’s a must. But I’ll admit I’m not looking forward to the transition process.
While I’m on the software thing, I’ll have to offer this one last item: This is one those of you who rely on apps will especially enjoy. It’s a tool that make your complete veterinary records available to you through an app. This way you’ll have access to your records wherever you go.
Developed by an ER veterinarian who couldn’t stand making clinical decisions without reading a patient’s entire medical history, the VitusVet app promises to offer you more transparency and control over your pet’s healthcare.
A veterinary hospital can either pay to make the app available to all its clients or pet owners can take measures into their own hands by downloading the app, which then pings their veterinarian a request for medical records. Cool, right?
OK so these are my top nine new gadgets and gizmos for the year. What would YOU like to see your veterinarian offer?