Feb
16
2017

The internet should have all the answers, but how easy is it to find those answers?

An increasing number of online tools are available to help veterinarians use the resources they need to practice best medicine. But a simple search query doesn’t always pull up the best information. Sofie, which is powered by LifeLearn; and VetFolio, which combines resources from the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) and AAHA, are two veterinary specific references trying to fill this gap.

LifeLearn, founded to help veterinarians and animal health organizations mobilize knowledge through online resources, created Sofie. Unlike a typical search engine, Sofie is powered by IBM’s Watson, an application that is designed to understand and process natural language, producing results in a way more in line with how people think and interact.

By compiling a wide range of veterinary information sources, Sofie eliminates the need to look at different sources, but has them all in one place. By making the search process quicker, this allows veterinarians to make evidence-based decisions without digging through textbooks manually. According to David Goodnight, DVM, EVP Veterinary Affairs and Business Development, one application of Sofie could be to help patients who have vague symptoms and non-specific lab results, “To improve patient care, Sofie can be accessed to help veterinarians understand clinical signs and laboratory findings and create diagnostic and treatment protocols.”

Goodnight said plans for Sofie include providing more trusted information sources to expand the set of searchable resources and talking with Sofie users, “Feedback from active users will be a key element in evolving and improving the platform for the future.”

From another perspective, VetFolio aims to offer Continuous Education for all members of a veterinary practice team—doctors, technicians, and practice managers. By offering hundreds of hours of RACE-approved CE learning, team members can look for the CE that is most relevant to them and design learning to best fit their needs.

The learning is not just in the form of webinars set up as classes, although those are an option, too. In addition to webinars, VetFolio offers sessions from NAVC and AAHA’s conferences, exclusive certificate courses, and podcasts. These resources run the gamut, covering procedure issues like hiring practices or answering quick questions.

According to Jay Hula, VetFolio’s Executive Director, there are some additions planned in the immediate future: “VetFolio is very excited to be launching Spanish-language content on March 1, allowing us to meet the educational needs of an ever-expanding audience.” The Well-being resource center will also be launched March 1, to “provide valuable tools and educational resources that are ‘designed to help you live your best life.’”

By putting more resources online to help veterinarians make diagnoses and continue to expand their knowledge base, Sofie and VetFolio are focusing specifically on the veterinary industry with tools that provide more help than a general internet search.

Photo credit: © iStock/YakobchukOlena

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