Top 5 things your team needs to know about using AI

Feb24-DeWilde-Top things to know about AI-GettyImages-1461110089-Moor Studio.jpg

The buzz and usage of artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT has exploded in the last year, across all industries—even within the niche of vet med. These natural language processing tools can understand and answer in human-esque conversational tones and help get many tasks done more efficiently.  

That said . . . AI tools are not without their faults. They should be used judiciously and always with a careful review. Here are a few things for veterinary teams to keep in mind:  

  1. AI is a communication lifesaver . . . but it can’t always get it right. One of the primary applications of AI in veterinary practices is in client communication—it can help generate quick and efficient responses to online reviews, emails, social media messages, and more. Use AI as a starting point but be sure to review and edit before clicking “send.” Remember that your clients are looking to your practice as the source of information, and they’re interested in building a relationship with your team, not with a robot.  
  2. AI’s goal is to generate information and responses quickly . . . even if it has to make it up. ChatGPT can serve as a valuable tool for veterinary teams to quickly access a wide range of information. It can serve as a starting point for further investigation by providing summaries of the latest research, drug information, and treatment options. However, it’s essential to verify everything provided by AI. Double-check references by comparing with current, evidence-based resources. AI systems are limited to the data they have been trained on, and may not always reflect the most recent, specific, or accurate veterinary knowledge.  
  3. Your clients are using AI. There have already been news reports of ChatGPT successfully diagnosing a pet’s health conditions when its veterinarians “couldn’t figure it out.” This tool is well-known and will likely continue to grow in usage by pet owners as a source of information (so another “Dr. Google” is upon us). Battle it by creating content and information that only YOUR practice can provide, such as video and photos with your team dispensing the knowledge and expertise that clients might be looking for elsewhere. 
  4. We’re still unpacking the ethics of AI. Ethical considerations—especially regarding client privacy and data security—are current hot topics in the world of AI. Feeding AI tools lots of information over time will only make it more effective, but we can’t know what it’s really doing with our data. Veterinary practices must ensure that any AI system they use complies with legal standards for protecting client information above all else. 
  5. More AI is coming. Looking forward, AI is expected to become increasingly sophisticated. We can anticipate more personalized and interactive AI applications in veterinary medicine, such as virtual assistants capable of more complex tasks like scheduling appointments, following up on patient progress, and even aiding in diagnostic processes.  

Veterinary team members are better off embracing AI technology now and becoming familiar with what it can (and can’t) do, using it where it makes sense, and then spending the time and energy they’ve saved to do something that artificial intelligence will never do—care for pets and their people. 


Caitlin DeWilde, DVM, is the founder of The Social DVM, a consulting firm helping veterinary professionals learn how to manage and grow their social media, online reputation, and marketing strategies. She earned her DVM from the University of Illinois and is a recipient of their Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Before stepping back to focus on her marketing passion, she served as medical director for a large hospital in St. Louis. Today, she divides her time between practice, consulting, and writing. She is the author of the “Social Media and Marketing for Veterinary Professionals” textbook and a columnist for Today’s Veterinary Business. 

Photo credit: © Moor Studio E+ via Getty Images Plus 

Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors. 

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