Applications of AI in Veterinary Practice

AI has many applications, including being an aid for SOAP notes. This article also includes a short roundup from several different software companies who are doing interesting things: Shepherd, Instinct, VetSOAP, and PetDesk.

By Aaron Smiley, DVM, Jason Szumski, DVM

From Focused Uses to Broad Industry Support

The field of veterinary medicine is currently witnessing a pivotal transformation, largely fueled by the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and various technological advancements. This shift goes beyond the mere adoption of new tools; it represents a fundamental change in the operational and care delivery paradigms of veterinary practices.

At the heart of this revolution is the strategic implementation of AI technologies to improve medical documentation processes, particularly through the crafting of detailed SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan) notes. This innovation has led to a significant enhancement in the efficiency of communication between veterinarians and pet owners, streamlining the exchange of crucial health information and facilitating better care outcomes for pets.

low-poly illustration sideview of a dog.

The Pressing Need for Enhanced Veterinary Practice Productivity

Today’s veterinary practices are navigating through an array of challenges, most notably the rising demand for veterinary services against a backdrop of an expanding pet population and a notable scarcity of veterinary professionals. This scenario places a tremendous burden on existing practices, compelling them to reconsider and revamp their conventional operational frameworks to maintain high standards of care while also ensuring a sustainable work life for their teams.

The projection from IDEXX’s “Finding the Time” report anticipates that productivity needs to increase by 40% by 2030. This underscores the critical nature of this issue, highlighting the immediate need for innovative solutions to enhance productivity and efficiency in veterinary care delivery.

Redefining Documentation Practices in Veterinary Medicine

The integration of AI into the documentation processes within veterinary medicine, particularly through the enhancement of SOAP note creation, marks a significant opportunity towards improving efficiencies in veterinary practices.

Practices like Devonshire Veterinary Clinic in Anderson, Indiana, are at the forefront of this innovation, demonstrating the vast capabilities of AI to not only streamline documentation but also to significantly improve the quality and efficiency of medical record-keeping.

The initial change was met with some resistance, mainly the concern that a change to the traditional workflow would decrease efficiency. However, the experience of staff at Devonshire has highlighted a critical insight: the transition to an AI generated SOAP note can take place while the team continues to write a traditional SOAP note. This is critical because it allows the veterinary team to test the accuracy and time savings of the new process without giving up the traditional method.

The application of AI for writing SOAP notes offers two significant advantages. Firstly, it minimizes the time veterinarians spend on administrative tasks, allowing them to dedicate more attention to patient care and consultation. This efficiency gain is crucial in a profession where time is often scarce and the demand for services is continuously growing.

Secondly, the use of AI in documentation ensures a higher degree of accuracy and consistency in patient records. AI systems can help identify potential errors or omissions in real-time, prompting veterinarians to include all relevant information, which in turn facilitates better care and follow-up. Moreover, AI-driven documentation tools are designed to be intuitive and easily integrated into the daily workflows of veterinary practices. These AI tools only require an audio recording of the conversation between the veterinarian and the animal’s owner during the physical exam to create a highly accurate SOAP note. The capability of the technology can be difficult to truly appreciate until it is experienced.

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Industry Predictions

Caleb Frankel, VMD, is founder of veterinary software and technology company Instinct Science. Frankel offered these predictions on the direction technology is headed in the veterinary industry.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Rekindled

The past decade of corporate consolidation and evolving career dynamics is fostering a new era of veterinary operations and ownership. I’m anticipating a wave of independent and group practice ownership and new and innovative practice models as veterinarians have and will always be true entrepreneurial pioneers.

AI as a Catalyst

AI stands to augment the veterinary profession, enhancing diagnostic accuracy, streamlining operations, and enriching the client–patient experience. Here at Instinct, we are taking a practical, safe, and thoughtful approach in how we deploy AI into our software tools. We envision workflow and medical assistants in the future, built directly into your software, that will help greatly automate your tasks and provide deeply integrated trusted content served in helpful and targeted ways, directly at the point of care.

Consolidation of Hospital Technology

Hospitals are zeroing in on technology that does it all—from appointments to billing—to make life easier and cut down on costs. By merging all of these tools into one, we’re not just saving clicks and headaches, we’re paving the way for smoother, more reliable care. It’s about making every moment count, for our teams and the animals we serve.

Transforming Veterinary Practice Through Efficient Time Management

Using AI-generated SOAP notes and other AI-assisted technology can also save veterinarians precious time. This additional time can be redirected towards various aspects of patient care that demand a veterinarian’s expertise and compassion, such as conducting more thorough examinations, engaging in detailed discussions with pet owners, or simply being more present and attentive during patient interactions. The direct result of this reallocated time is a notable enhancement in patient outcomes. When veterinarians can invest more time in each case, they are better positioned to diagnose accurately, tailor treatment plans effectively, and foster a deeper connection with both the patient and the pet owner.

The transformation of veterinary practice through efficient time management, facilitated by AI, extends beyond the individual veterinarian or practice. It has the potential to reshape the veterinary profession at large, setting new standards for what is achievable in terms of care quality and efficiency. As veterinary practices become more efficient, they can serve a larger number of patients without sacrificing the quality of care, thereby addressing some of the pressing challenges facing the profession, such as the increasing demand for veterinary services and the shortage of veterinary professionals.

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Beyond Documentation: The Broad Scope of AI in Veterinary Medicine

The impact of AI in the realm of veterinary medicine transcends the boundaries of documentation, heralding a new era of technological integration that touches upon every facet of veterinary practice. AI’s versatility is showcased in its application across a variety of critical areas, transforming not just how information is recorded but fundamentally altering approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and education within the field.

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The impact of AI in the realm of veterinary medicine transcends the boundaries of documentation, heralding a new era of technological integration that touches upon every facet of veterinary practice.

AI systems can sift through extensive databases of clinical records and research findings to offer diagnostic suggestions based on symptoms presented and historical data. This capability not only aids in formulating differential diagnoses but also in predicting potential complications, thereby guiding veterinarians towards the most effective treatment plans. Such diagnostic support is invaluable in a profession where the variety of species and conditions encountered presents a continual challenge.

As AI technology evolves, AI-assisted tools can continuously learn, providing insights from the latest research and data analytics.

Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture

Automating the documentation process with AI-assisted technology gives veterinary professionals more time to engage in meaningful discussions with each other about patient care, thus promoting a culture of teamwork and shared decision-making. This collaboration strengthens camaraderie and unity among staff, positively influencing the clinic’s atmosphere. Moreover, AI’s role in reducing the administrative burden helps alleviate the stress and burnout associated with manual documentation, creating a more balanced and enjoyable work environment that positively impacts staff satisfaction and retention.

Furthermore, as AI technology evolves, AI-assisted tools can continuously learn, providing insights from the latest research and data analytics. This encourages a culture of education and innovation within the clinic, inspiring staff to embrace new knowledge and techniques, which fosters personal and professional development. The precision and clarity offered by AI in documentation also enhances both internal and external communication, ensuring transparency and understanding within the veterinary team and building trust and satisfaction among pet owners by facilitating more effective communication about their pet’s health and care plans.

Additionally, the time saved and the increase in the accuracy of patient records through AI-assisted documentation such as SOAP notes translate to better patient care and safety. This allows the veterinary team to concentrate more on what they do best—caring for animals. By integrating these various elements, AI can play a significant role in creating a positive workplace culture within veterinary clinics, characterized by an environment where teamwork, well-being, continuous learning, and efficient communication are paramount.

The use of AI within veterinary practices signifies a transformative shift towards greater operational efficiency, enhanced patient care, and a revitalized workplace culture.

This not only boosts the morale and job satisfaction of veterinary professionals but also ensures the delivery of high-quality care to patients, reinforcing the clinic’s commitment to excellence in veterinary medicine. The adoption of AI in creating SOAP notes is a prime example of how technology can be utilized to not just improve the operational facets of veterinary practice but also to cultivate a more dynamic, satisfied, and cohesive team.

The use of AI within veterinary practices signifies a transformative shift towards greater operational efficiency, enhanced patient care, and a revitalized workplace culture. Automating different processes using AI frees veterinarians to focus more on patient interactions, fostering a collaborative and innovative environment.

This not only improves diagnostic and treatment outcomes but also addresses the challenges of demand surges and professional burnout, marking a significant step in veterinary medicine’s evolution. As the veterinary field continues to embrace AI, the promise of a future where technology and veterinary expertise combine to improve both practice efficiency and patient outcomes becomes increasingly tangible. The integration of AI is not just an operational upgrade but a catalyst for comprehensive enhancement in veterinary medicine.

Photo credits: Nattapon Kongbunmee, Slim3D/iStock via Getty Images Plus, filo/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images, jamielawton/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images


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Veterinary Software Innovators

Technology moves at a fast clip, and vet med software innovators are keeping up with the times. Check out these companies that are taking the pet industry into the future.

Shepherd Veterinary Software

Founder: Cindy Barnes, DVM, CSVMT

Learn more:

From the Company: Shepherd Veterinary Software is a cloud-based practice management solution, founded by a practicing veterinarian and mom who understood the dire need for a software that supports rather than complicates veterinary practices.

Extensive online training modules, virtual scenario training, and live simulations ensure a seamless transition for veterinary teams, making efficiency and convenience a priority. Shepherd’s intuitive user interfaces ensure that every member of the team, regardless of generation, can effortlessly adapt to the software, facilitating a smooth transition to cloud-based operations.

The software platform includes features such as automated charge capture, detailed reporting, inventory tracking, digital whiteboard, patient scheduling, texting, client and staff communication, intuitive dashboard, SOAP-based medical records, easy estimates, complete activity logs, autosave, built-in templates, patient tracking, and more.

Anticipating the evolving landscape of veterinary medicine, the company is exploring the integration of AI into its software. By leveraging AI, Shepherd aims to redefine software functionality, user interactions, client engagement, and medical practice methodologies.

Instinct Science

Founder: Caleb Frankel, VMD

Learn more:

From the Company: Instinct offers a full electronic medical records and practice management system (Instinct EMR), a standalone digital workflow treatment plan (Instinct Treatment Plan) and an e-prescribing platform (Instinct Scripts). Instinct recently acquired VetMedux, welcoming Clinician’s Brief, Plumb’s Veterinary Drugs, and Plumb’s Pro into our growing suite of mission-critical, essential tools for the veterinary caretakers of today and tomorrow.

Instinct EMR is a single platform to help veterinary teams keep track of patient history, treat patients, communicate with clients and internal teams, and track business analytics.

Instinct Treatment Plan is a standalone digital command center for both outpatient and inpatient treatments, enabling veterinary teams to track each patient’s progress, streamline treatment processes with auto-filled notes, previous visits, and vaccines, and automate charge capture and billing from treatment to invoice.


Founders: Aaron Smiley, DVM, and Jason Szumski, DVM

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From the Company: VetSOAP revolutionizes veterinary documentation by automating the creation of SOAP notes from audio recordings, eliminating manual writing or dictation. It prioritizes accuracy to save veterinarians up to an hour daily, enhancing productivity. Developed by veterinarians, it offers a seamless note-generation process, streamlines workflows, and improves record quality, focusing on patient care. VetSOAP’s affordable pricing includes unlimited usage, advanced features, and premium support, making it an invaluable tool for veterinary practices aiming for efficiency and high-quality care.


Founders: Sebastian Gabor and Ruxandra Pui

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From the Company: Digitail, a member of the AAHA Strategic Alliance Program, is an all-in-one, cloud-based practice management software with built-in AI capabilities and a native app for clients. It is designed to maximize productivity and deliver modern experiences to veterinary teams, pet owners, and their companions at every step of the patient journey. Equipped with an AI-powered virtual assistant, Digitail automates routine administrative tasks, cuts down staff’s workload, and lets them focus on what they do best—providing exceptional care. At the same time, the Digitail app puts essential pet care information into the hands of pet owners, improving communication and increasing compliance.

(now part of PetDesk)

Founder: Adam Greenbaum

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From the Company: PetDesk’s platform now extends beyond client communication—encapsulating an array of services tailored to elevating practice operations and client engagement strategies.

With the expanded PetDesk suite, you can enhance your online visibility with a custom website and digital marketing, streamline your communication systems with customizable reminders, connect your phone system to your PIMS with smart VoIP, and provide convenient 24/7 appointment booking capabilities.

These tools are designed to simplify your daily tasks, attract and retain more clients, and ultimately allow you to focus on providing exceptional pet care. A testament to our commitment to transforming veterinary medicine, our toolset ensures that your clinic is equipped with the best technology to meet the needs of the modern pet owner.



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