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Technology Helping Tackle Australia's Veterinarian Shortage

Technology and innovation could be the answer to the record number of Australian veterinarians abandoning the industry, which is prompting fears there won’t be enough vets to take care of the nation’s pets.

A just-released Lincoln Institute survey found that nearly 90 per cent of veterinary business owners and managers reported unprecedented difficulty filling vacancies. Forty one (41) per cent waited longer than six months to fill positions and 18 per cent waited up to two years or more to find new vets to work in their clinics.

Adding to the concern is that demand is rising for Australia’s $4 billion vet industry, which is growing at around three per cent a year, according to an August 2018 IBIS World report*, thanks to higher pet insurance uptake, growing awareness of animal health issues, and the increasing availability of advanced surgical and diagnostic procedures for animals.

A working paper with recommendations is due in March as an industry steering group look into the issues but some parts of the industry are worried pet owners could struggle to find a vet if the situation isn’t addressed.

National mobile veterinarian booking service Pawssum – which utilises app-based technology to send vets to the homes of pet owners – believes it’s helping to address the vet shortage by attracting experienced vets back into the industry.

“As a separate Lincoln survey showed, vets have been leaving the industry in droves – and many more are planning to leave – primarily due to poor work conditions, low remuneration, long hours and stress,” said Pawssum CEO Dr Jon Berkowitz.

“However, there is some good news; our service is helping vets return to the job they love – treating animals – because they can sign up to work with us as a mobile vet and work as little or as much as they want.

“They can choose when they want to work, what type of work they want to do and they don’t have to worry about invoicing clients or marketing or providing their own insurance – we take care of it all, which is helping vets choose to come back into the industry.” 

Melbourne-based vet Dr Tim White is one of more than 130 vets in the Pawssum community, joining the platform last year after a decade in the industry.

“It was an easy choice to start with Pawssum; not only is it convenient for pet owners but it is convenient for vets,” said Dr White.

“I can choose when I’m available and what cases I see, allowing me the flexibility to balance my work and family life and I find the house visits great for the pets and the clients are usually more relaxed as well.” 

Dr Berkowitz said pet owners who in the past had to visit the surgery and wait, or pay a substantial call out fee, now have another option available. 

“Many people are too time-poor to sit in a vet clinic and also many dogs and cats are anxious about heading to the clinic, making at-home visits very much in demand. If the pet needs further tests or surgery, we can refer them to one of our partner clinics,” he said.

Pawssum now operates in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra and has begun branching further out into locations such as Bendigo.
For more details, please visit www.pawssum.com.au

https://www.ibisworld.com.au/industry-trends/market-research-reports/professional-scientific-technical-services/veterinary-services.html
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