Case Study

Modernizing healthcare for the four-legged family member.

About the client. Our client is a designer of software and solutions focused on supporting the veterinary industry. Headquartered in Canada, the organization specializes in developing offerings that promote a One Health framework — one that improves the understanding of disease across companion animals and humans.

With an eye on bringing animal healthcare on par with that for humans, our innovative client partnered with us to develop a data strategy and an AI-driven patient care platform. The solution delivers advanced AI modeling and analytics to help veterinary personnel make objective, evidence-based decisions. Our client wanted to develop a new patient management platform that would offer advanced data and analytics support. The solution uses data-based modeling and AI technology to promote personalized care plans for pets.

Real numbers, real results.


Saving in HR


Quicker diagnoses


Lower cost in year one


Different species, same family
Scroll through the average social media feed and you’ll quickly begin to see images of the family pet. Birds, dogs, cats, rabbits, the occasional ferret or python — there is no end to the types of animals that we have welcomed into our homes, into our lives. But rather than a spontaneous image of them doing something cute, increasingly these images tend to be more intentional, capturing birthdays, training graduations, special holiday outfits and other major life milestones.

“What we’re seeing is the anthropomorphizing of the family pet,” explains the CEO. “The pet has become more significant. It is a family member now, and as a result, the expectation of current owners is that the level of care that their pet will receive will be on par with a human family member.”

At the same time — thanks to the Internet — the average pet owner is much more sophisticated in their understanding of underlying diseases and treatment options. So veterinary staff need to be able to demonstrate and offer objective measurements for patient care and reassure owners that their four-legged family members are receiving the highest level of support possible.

To deliver this confidence and improve overall care quality, our client wanted to develop a more efficient and better-integrated veterinary patient management platform that mirrored systems used in human healthcare.

“In the past, patient data was stored in local record systems that used antiquated, manual models for analyzing data,” notes the CEO. “But recently — within the last two to three years — veterinarian medicine started using cloud computing and integrating electronic health records across departments. And by improving the ability to look at the progression, treatment, and monitoring of diseases in companion animals, we will be able to better drive better patient outcomes.”

Our client also hoped that the data gathered by this system could be used to drive new research for both animals and humans. Or as the CEO explains it: “We know from interspecies studies that there is a lot of consistency between human and animal diseases and therapeutics. As an example, an osteosarcoma in a dog is virtually identical to an osteosarcoma in a human. And the current treatment for humans was actually derived from the treatments for dogs.”

We're reducing wait time during triage because now there is more direct line between examination and administration and diagnosis.



Evidence-based care
Recognizing that it lacked the in-house machine learning and AI skills to drive this new patient platform, our client turned to KPI Digital. “We always take the approach where we walk before we run,” notes Monica Weinstein, Director Digital Experience for KPI Digital. “So we used a phased approach, starting with an initial assessment where we mapped out the business and technical needs that our client had alongside the company’s existing capabilities.”

Armed with this information, we joined forces with our client to develop a project roadmap for the new patient platform, initially focusing on the gathering of transactional data, such as intake and triage. “Using Watson Assistant and Watson Discovery, we built a secure interface to collect patient history and medical information to improve data accuracy,” explains the CEO. “The chatbot handles the more repetitive tasks associated with intake. And by integrating with an existing EMR [electronic medical record] system, users can automate triage levels, prioritize patients, and obtain consistent patient data.”

The platform also boasts a corresponding clinician dashboard, an interface built with IBM Watson Discovery and IBM Watson Studio that serves as an overlay for existing EMR systems. With the dashboard, veterinary staff can quickly and easily review intake data and even receive recommended protocols and treatment plans that relate to the companion animal’s condition. The tool can also estimate total care costs, lengths of stay and other factors that might impact treatment choices.

Beyond this initial phase, our client intends to update the overall solution with additional functionality that will gather post-visit analytics directly from pet owners for further treatment refinement. And with the tool now in place, the organization is also beginning to drive expanded business intelligence efforts, mining data from animal hospitals and expanded healthcare networks to develop new care models with IBM Cognos Analytics software.

“As an example,” adds the CEO, “one of our clinicians had a hypothesis that there was a blood concentration of a certain chemical just immediately prior to an epileptic event. So, we did an analysis of our pathology data points as it relates to blood and urine against recorded seizure events. An analysis like that had never been done before. And we hope that these advances can then be translated to human health improvements in oncology, neurology, and cardiology.”

Barkley dashboard


Transforming the patient journey
With the new patient management platform, users — particularly those in animal hospitals — can better manage how resources and staff are allocated across departments. “We estimate that within the emergency department where we first deployed the solution, we’re going to save them 10% of their human resources costs in the first year,” observes our client.

In particular, the emergency department will be able to better focus highly skilled technicians and veterinarians on work that only they can do, while more administrative or common tasks can be offloaded to other personnel.

“And because of the workflow methodology of the clinician dashboard,” Woodrow continues, “we’ve removed the duplication of efforts related to clinical notes and intake interviews. We’re reducing wait times during triage because now there is a more direct line between examination and administration and diagnosis. On average we’ve cut the time to complete the diagnostic process and document it by a minimum of 25%.”

Further, with diagnostic models in place, clinical staff can make better informed decisions regarding patient care. Or as Woodrow expresses it, “We are providing them with up-to-date and objective information that will help to personalize treatment and lead to better healthcare outcomes for the patient.”

Alongside these care improvements, animal clinics and hospitals will be able to use the analytics capabilities of the solution to mine through all manner of data — caseloads, care efficacy rates, diagnostic machine usage, test types, etc. — to determine the return on investment (ROI) of equipment, adherence to protocols and overall patient outcomes, ultimately driving greater site efficiency and profitability.

Woodrow concludes, adding: “Without a future-proofed, scalable entity like IBM, this project would not have been able to succeed. And regarding KPI Digital — being a gold partner of IBM was probably the most confidence-leading measure for me. KPI was knowledgeable around data, analytics and AI, which is exactly what we needed.”