Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

For Veterinarians

For Veterinarians

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Dear Fellow Veterinarian,
I have been in equine veterinary practice for over 23 years and, like many other veterinarians, I have some real concerns about the future of our profession. As we all know, the Internet, the economic downturn, and the contraction of the horse industry have created conditions that are changing – and challenging – equine veterinary practice.
Notably, we are no longer perceived as the primary source for credible information about equine health. Horse owners are increasingly engaging in self-help that bypasses the practice of veterinary medicine and the procurement of a diagnosis. Too often these efforts are misdirected, resulting in inappropriate or delayed treatment – and harm to horses.
fin3_verticalb copy 2Despite the plethora of equine health information available on the Internet, there is very little unbiased content available that explains our role in ensuring horse health, including:
•  The critical difference between a horse owner’s observation and a veterinarian’s diagnosis.
•  The complexity of our thought process as we use diagnostics to diagnose a problem, and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
•  How we can help horse owners spend their limited dollars wisely by investing in efficacious products and services.
I tried to articulate the dangers of this new paradigm in an award-winning article I wrote entitled The Value of a Diagnosis published in the October 2012 issue of The Horse Magazine.  See also my recent article about Dr. Google entitled Changing Times: The Veterinarian & the Internet, published in Merck’s Partners in Practice Fall 2013. And Extraordinary Times: Extraordinary Efforts, published in the MWI Messenger December 2014.
Although focused on small animal practice, I encourage you to read the Partners for Healthy Pets AAHA-AVMA White Paper: Reversing the Decline in Veterinary Care Utilization: Progress Made, Challenges Remain. One key finding from the last 4 years is: “Pet owner reliance on the Internet as their first option for information when their pet is sick or injured increased by 23%.” (Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Studies 2010 and 2014)
On a lighter/darker note – are you a fan of the mini-series House of Cards? If so, take a look at this parody from ZDoggMD.  See any parallels in vet practice? I do.
An Opportunity
My reflections on this dilemma are not new or unique. I have spoken to many veterinarians that share my concerns. Amidst my personal reflections on this predicament, it occurred to me that there might be a way to use the massive shift toward the use of Smartphones and mobile applications. The idea that a horse owner could make an observation and immediately access credible information about that observation- literally “horse side” – is the driving concept behind this product.
Since early 2011, when I had this idea and started creating this product, the number of Smartphones has more than doubled. There are now over 164 million Smartphone in the United States, and this number continues to increase rapidly. Today, people search for needed information on their Smartphones, and expect immediate results.
So – What is HSVG?
HSVG began as a Smartphone application for horse owners and equine professionals that will improve the future of equine health and equine veterinary practice. HSVG is founded upon and intended to strengthen the Veterinary-Client Patient Relationship by educating horse owners and increasing the quality of communication.
The core of HSVG is an online relational database of equine health information that is downloaded onto a mobile device – smartphone or tablet. The information is presented from a horse owner’s perspective, and organized into 9 inter-related categories: My Observations, Vet Diagnostics, Vet Diagnoses, Vet Treatments, My Skills, My Supplies, Terms & Topics, Media and Outside Resources. The database resides on the phone, along with instructional videos and illustrations. The user can easily update content via synchronization of their mobile device. Based on numerous requests, we recently made HSVG available for FREE here, on this website.
The inter-related categories are intended to clearly distinguish between the user’s role and the role of the veterinarian in addressing any equine health issue. My Observations, My Skills, and My Supplies contain information to empower the user. Vet Diagnostics, Vet Diagnoses and Vet Treatments give the user a glimpse into the depth of our knowledge. The inter-relationships among all these records showcase the veterinarian’s complex thought process as we strive to properly identify and successfully treat illness or injury.
Your Role
Ideally, HSVG stimulates more conversation about a client’s options, and the best approach to take when faced with an equine health issue. Importantly, HSVG was created with you in mind, and it requires your active participation in ensuring the good health of the horse. We hope you find it helpful to your clients and your practice.
Finally, in order to get HSVG launched, I had to be the driving force behind content creation. Because of that, HSVG is limited by my own biases and experiences. However, we are now transforming HSVG into a broader endeavor and are seeking the input of colleagues and specialists in different areas of equine veterinary practice.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.
Sincerely, Douglas O. Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP
“Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.” – WW

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