Objective—To estimate the proportion of independent small animal veterinary medical practices in Massachusetts that use electronic veterinary medical records (EVMRs), determine the purposes for which EVMRs are used, and identify perceived barriers to their use.
Procedures—213 of 517 independent small animal veterinary practices operating in Massachusetts were randomly chosen for study recruitment. One veterinarian at each practice was invited by telephone to answer a hardcopy survey regarding practice demographics, medical records type (electronic, paper, or both), purposes of EVMR use, and perceived barriers to adoption. Surveys were mailed to the first 100 veterinarians who agreed to participate. Practices were categorized by record type and size (large [≥ 5 veterinarians], medium [3 to 4 veterinarians], or small [1 to 2 veterinarians]).
Results—84 surveys were returned; overall response was 84 of 213 (39.4%). The EVMRs were used alone or together with paper records in 66 of 82 (80.5%) practices. Large and medium-sized practices were significantly more likely to use EVMRs combined with paper records than were small practices. The EVMRs were most commonly used for ensuring billing, automating reminders, providing cost estimates, scheduling, recording medical and surgical information, and tracking patient health. Least common uses were identifying emerging infectious diseases, research, and insurance. Eleven veterinarians in paper record–only practices indicated reluctance to change, anticipated technological problems, time constraints, and cost were barriers to EVMR use.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated EVMRs were underutilized as a tool for tracking and improving population health and identifying emerging infectious diseases. Efforts to facilitate adoption of EVMRs for these purposes should be strengthened by the veterinary medical, human health, and public health professions.
To evaluate rabies virus (RABV) characterization data obtained from animal specimens submitted to the US public health rabies surveillance system and propose a standardized approach to sample selection for RABV characterization that could enhance early detection of important rabies epizootic events in the United States.
United States public health rabies surveillance system data collected from January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2015.
Data were reviewed to identify RABV-positive specimens for which virus characterization would likely provide information regarding any of 4 overarching events (discovery of novel variants, translocation of RABV variants, host-shift events, and any unusual rabies-related event) that could substantially alter animal rabies epizootiology in the United States. These specimens were designated as specimens of epizootiological importance (SEIs). Estimates of the additional number of specimens that public health laboratories could expect to process each year if all SEIs underwent RABV characterization were calculated.
During the 6-year period, the mean annual number of SEIs was 855 (95% CI, 739 to 971); the mean number of SEIs that underwent virus characterization was 270 (95% CI, 187 to 353). Virus characterization of all SEIs would be expected to increase the public health laboratories’ test load by approximately 585 (95% CI, 543 to 625) specimens/y.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Prioritization of RABV characterization of SEIs may improve early detection of rabies events associated with RABV host shifts, variant translocations, and importation. Characterization of SEIs may help refine wildlife rabies management practices. Each public health laboratory should evaluate testing of SEIs to ensure diagnostic laboratory capacity is not overstretched.