Veterinarian turns dog owner's tragedy into cloud-based EHR for pets

Mark Olcott was the veterinarian on duty at an emergency clinic when a small dog came in with wounds from a tussle with another dog. Olcott needed to sedate the patient to treat his wounds, but he didn't know that the dog had once had a bad reaction to the anesthetic he planned to use. The pup died, and Olcott felt horrible.

So Olcott decided to turn the tragedy into something constructive--a software program that stores pets' electronic health records (EHRs) and makes them available to owners and veterinarians via a mobile app. His Columbia, MD-based company, VitusVet, recently raised $1 million in seed funding to build the program and roll it out nationwide, according to a profile in the Baltimore Business Journal.

VitusVet pulls data from existing EHRs, such as prescriptions, allergies and lab results, and stores them in the cloud, where they can be accessed by pet owners and veterinarians. The company charges a fee to vets who opt into the platform but makes it available free of charge to pet owners. "We think that having access to this information will help your pets wherever you take them," Olcott says in an introductory video posted on YouTube.

He adds that the app could save pet owners money, by allowing them to skip costly tests that may be unnecessarily repeated at emergency clinics.

Olcott joins a growing army of entrepreneurs who are working to bring veterinary medicine into the electronic age. Several companies are now offering apps that allow pet owners to request real-time video chats with veterinarians, including Vet on Demand, Vet24Seven, and Kuddly, which raised a $1.5 million seed round in November.

Other startups are developing wearable devices that are designed to monitor chronic diseases in pets and transmit real-time information to veterinarians. Georgia-based AGL, for example, recently introduced Vetrax, a collar attachment that collects data on dog behaviors such as scratching and shaking and then sends alerts when it detects abnormal activities.

VitusVet, founded in 2013, launched its app in May and has since rolled it out in 9 states, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. Olcott tells the paper he plans to use the new funding to hire a marketing team.

- get more at the Baltimore Business Journal
- watch Olcott tell his story on YouTube 

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