ECCVT workshop - Embracing digital technology in veterinary practice Brussels, 13th & 14th May 2019

 Published: 24 Jun 2019 | Last Updated: 24 Jun 2019 06:34

The Member organizations of the European Coordinating Committee on Veterinary Training (ECCVT) representing academia, veterinarians and veterinary specialists organized a joint seminar in Brussels to explore potentials provided by the use of available digitals tools.
The event was held in Brussels and brought together around 50 participants from around Europe and beyond, academics, training providers, statutory bodies, professional veterinary associations, accreditation of education bodies. Lively discussions took place around the impact that digital technologies may have on the veterinary profession, the veterinary practice and the society. Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data, computer learning were some of the items that triggered the exchange of many views about the challenges and opportunities that these new tools bring to veterinarians.

 The way that veterinarians communicate with their clients is changing;
 Mobile phone is an immediate source of any information;
 Big technology companies enter dynamically the healthcare and veterinary practice, by
investing more and more in those sectors, developing and providing such digital solutions to
 The way of communication and interaction between veterinarians and their clients tends to
minimise personal contact and use more and more digital solutions or social media;
 Online assessment of healthcare and veterinary services through social media or other
platforms is nowadays a fact. The majority of clients/patients use online reviews to pick a
health care provider and are willing to spend more money the better those reviews are;

 Practice management systems provide opportunities to veterinarians for better marketing
and facilitate access to veterinary services, e.g. through easy online reservation of
appointment, remote diagnosis, reminders on treatments, etc.;
 AI is already used for diagnostic purposes by doctors and veterinarians, e.g. through
wearables, to detect atrial fibrillation, diagnose brain tumours, predict treatment shift for
cancer, etc., but health professionals do not fully understand how it works;
 A dehumanisation process of medical and veterinary practice is already applied, it is important
that the doctors and veterinarians are trained to assess AI to ensure that results delivered by
the machines are reliable results. Therefore, health professionals should understand how a
machine and algorithms work to ensure proper diagnosis;
 AI supports healthcare professionals with diagnosis, veterinarians and doctors have to put
more attention on other aspects of their practice, such as communication, health advocacy,
big data management, research, collaboration, etc.
 AI provides opportunities for the practitioners to be available next to their clients 24/7, it is
expected that practitioners using better digital technologies will be the ones that would be
more successful in the future;
 Practitioners need to trust machines and learn how to use them, not to compete with them;
 There is a lack of a legislative framework for the certification of AI, such as wearables or
transplants or other digital tools, that can ensure which devices are safe to be used on animals
and how they should be used;
 It is expected a reorganisation of the role of the profession in this new digital era. A gap in
legal and ethical guidelines is currently present and foreseen to be so for some years;
 The question is no longer if but when digital simulation revolution will occur in health
 Computers deliver results based on the input they receive, therefore teaching of next
generations of veterinarians should emphasize on critical thinking and critical evaluation of
information. Teachers should move from being expert teachers to become facilitator
 Emphasis is now on the team rather than on one profession doing everything, education and
research should adapt to facilitate interdisciplinary training and promote a vet-lead team for
the future;
 External Quality Assurance of digital education is important and should particularly assess the
quality of students’ experience, not only students’ satisfaction;
 Accreditation is currently the safest way to get high ranking of education services, but in
practice it does not favour innovation in teaching;
 The development of common standards for the assessment of digital teaching and training
should include generic principles that can be operational and fit in different contexts;
 Regulations at all levels should be developed in a way to be fit for purpose

The European Coordinating Committee on Veterinary Training (ECCVT)
calls on all stakeholders involved in veterinary education and training to work
together to prepare the veterinary profession for this new digital era
EAEVE, EBVS and FVE acknowledge that the profession should proactively take responsibility to look into
issues related to certification of AI ensuring their reliability, to ownership and use of big data, as well as, to professional liability.
ECCVT would in particular consider that
 Competences of graduate veterinarians in the future (Day One Competences)
might need to be adapted to include competences to ensure a minimum
understanding of how AI and these digital technologies work;
 Future curricula should put more emphasis on soft skills of veterinarians and
development of critical thinking;
 Interdisciplinary education should be promoted to facilitate team work;
 The framework for the assessment of digital education have to be incorporated in
the European System for the Evaluation of Veterinary Training.