Dr. LH Explains How Voyce Helps Veterinarians
By: Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna
I am grateful to have been working on the development of Voyce, for a number of reasons. As a full-time practicing veterinarian, I was often troubled that I couldn’t always see exactly what my clients were reporting. They would call to tell me that their dog--my patient--was behaving a certain way or had a symptom. Unfortunately, many times when they came to see me, my patient would stop the behavior (thanks to the white coat syndrome) that was the original reason for them seeing me.
Throughout the development of Voyce, I have seen the benefit of getting objective information about my patients. Even when I am not present, I can still collect information such as activity, resting heart rate, and resting respiratory rate. I can validate what my client (the pet parent) is able to see, and I can help interpret the changes in the data. For example, if a dog’s heart rate is increasing over time, it could be due to pain or a change in cardiovascular health. If there is a “sudden” change, it puts me on alert to watch for any other symptoms, such as vomiting or limping. It may not give me all the answers, but it does tell me that I should watch my patient a bit more closely. It also provides peace of mind. The pet parent feels better that I am able to watch, and the pet parent can help me watch the data also. It’s similar to a “baby monitor” in that way. It doesn’t tell you everything, but it makes it a lot easier to pick up on an issue if one starts to develop.
What has been very interesting to me is the change in my opinion of the data. I went to vet school (Auburn University) and graduated (2002) prior to any sort of self-monitoring--for humans or dogs. Granted, I knew I could always get better as a veterinarian, but I wasn’t clear on how much information I could gain from activity metrics, or information like resting heart and respiratory rates. Checking those metrics only recently became well studied.
It turns out that I can combine the Voyce data with other information, such as annual exams, wellness labwork, and screening x-rays to provide a much more clear picture of what is happening with my patient. My patient can now become her own baseline. Instead of comparing her to all the other dogs of that age/breed/sex in my mind, I can truly compare her to herself. I know what her normal heart rate is. I can review her last day/week/year of data. When she comes to see me and her heart is racing from the car ride and the treats she got at the reception desk, I can compare it to what she does at home.
If her mom calls me to say that she’s limping, I can remotely check her data. Has she just been lame today? Has she been slowing down over the last few weeks? Has her heart rate been elevating as well? Is she sleeping less well because she is painful? All of that information, combined with her physical exam and her x-rays may be able to help me direct treatment even better than before. Plus, now I can check on her remotely. Is she more active with appropriate treatment? Is her mom letting her rest like I asked? Is she sleeping better with the pain medicine?
In short, Voyce doesn’t do the work for me. It helps me do the work better. I left full time practice in an effort to help my veterinary colleagues be even better. Veterinarians love dogs … that’s how we wound up in this field. And I’m really hopeful that the research and long hours will pay off as Voyce helps veterinarians take even better care of their patients, and help you, the pet parent, take even better care of your dogs. When you understand your dog like never before, you can truly understand what they are trying to tell you.