In The News: Innovation at its best

The world’s first virtual veterinary clinic has been designed by a Territory vet.

Susanna Samuelsson’s new i-vet website allows remote pet owners to take their animals to the vet – without leaving the house.

Dr Samuelsson gained an understanding of the tyranny of distance over seven years working with geographically isolated pets as owner of the Gove veterinary clinic.

“This came from out of necessity,” she said, “Pet owners were contacting us from all around east Arnhem Land, wanting help with their pets.

“They’d try to tell you what they thought was wrong, and it wasn’t until we started video conferencing that we realised the owner often missed vital symptoms.

“We could then work out what was wrong and we’d send medication or organise for the pet to get to the nearest vet clinic.”

More than just video conferencing, i-vet provides a stable online platform for video consultations, an online booking and payment system, an emergency on-call vet, and instructional videos.

She said i-vet had potential to be helpful for people isolated by illness and disability as well.

“Some of my family members have disabilities and I see how hard it is for some people to get to a vet clinic. This brings access to veterinary care into their homes.”

She credits the Business Innovation Support Initiatives voucher, through the Department of Business as being key to the development of the website.

“Without the voucher I doubt we would have been able to come to this final product,” she said.

“There are no virtual vet clinics out there so there were lots of unchartered waters, but integrating an online appointment system and trying to get that to talk to a management system was quite hard because it was the first of its kind.”

The system is being piloted in the Nhulunbuy region, before being launched to the world.

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© Northern Territory Department of Business | This article first appeared on the NTDOB Business Bulletin on 12 May 2016.