Tech firm brings Joii to animals with AI vet
Vet-tech start-up Vet-AI has launched Joii, an artificial intelligence application which enables pet owners to get an initial diagnosis from home for their pets.
The application uses algorithms written by vets which help guide owners to the right outcome for the animal.
Technology entrepreneur Paul Hallett, along with veterinarians Robert Dawson and Sarah Warren, formed Vet-AI in 2017.
Mr Hallett said: “Our main aim is to improve animal welfare and to make pet care more accessible. But it’s also about helping those who provide that care.
“Much like human healthcare professionals, vets often experience difficult working conditions. Through the provision of digital services, Vet-AI wants to relieve the pressure on vets so that they can ultimately offer a higher quality of care.
“At the same time, this means fewer vet bills for owners, and less discomfort for pets that don’t tend to enjoy visiting a clinic.”
A clinical trial by Vet-AI showed that, in many cases, equally accurate diagnoses can be made by vets through a video consultation as can be made by vets giving a physical examination. Mr Hallett said: “We believe we will drive more cases into physical practices as a consequence of engaging with pet owners early, and ultimately this will grow the overall market. We want to work with practices and create meaningful collaborations so we can help each other.”
Since launching in 2017, Vet-AI has built a team of 19 specialists including design entrepreneur Jonathan Sands OBE, computational physicist Trevor Hardcastle, as well as former head of AI at online medical consultation platform Push Doctor, Josh Sephton.
Mr Hardcastle, chief data scientist at Vet-AI, said: “Our AI is going to gain insight that has never been attained before.
“We are building the biggest and most reliable global pet healthcare database on the planet. That makes us different because we will have more data than any individual practice.
“It’s about the quality and consistency of the data, so we can start creating preventative intervention strategies.”
Joii is free to download and offers a free symptom checker. If the user requires a video consultation with a vet for their pet it costs £20. The app also offers a range of free clinics run by the Joii nursing team designed to help owners keep their pets healthy.
Mr Hallett believes the veterinary industry has been slow to catch up on the use of technology to enhance the welfare of animals.
He says that the veterinary sector has seen unsustainable levels of inflation and that vets are suffering from high levels of stress.
Mr Hallett said: “Veterinary inflation has been going up for the last ten years. It’s unsustainable.
“What that means now is that one-in-three pet owners are avoiding the vets because of the price and it’s leading to a bit of an animal welfare issue. This has been evidenced by one of our partners, the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals).
“What we’re actually seeing because of this is that pet abandonments are at an all-time high.”
Vets are also “underpaid and overworked”, he added.
The co-founder of Vet-AI says that if remote working is possible for doctors then it’s possible for vets too.