Veterinary telemedicine platform Dutch raises $20M

0
46

The company gives pet parents virtual access to nearly 100 vets across the country

There’s been a lot of talk about physician burnout, especially during the pandemic, when it only got worse than it had been before. It’s not just human doctors who are suffering, though, the same thing is happening to veterinarians, with the percentage of veterinarians with serious psychological distress has increasing from 6.4% in 2019 to 9.7% in 2021, while close to half of staff, and approximately one-third of vets, reported high levels of burnout.

There are a few things happening at the same time to cause this increase in mental health problems, including pandemic restrictions, staff shortages, and pet adoptions that shot up nearly 70% during the pandemic.

Now the pet and veterinary industries are facing an unexpected challenge to keep up with the increased demand, said Joe Spector, co-founder and CEO of Dutch, a telemedicine service for animals that raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Forerunner Ventures and Eclipse Ventures on Thursday.

“As a result, fewer young adults are entering the profession, caused by a combination of shifting industry and pandemic conditions, excessive student debt, high risk of suicide and pandemic-induced vet shortages,” he said.

“Fewer vets than ever have recently entered the market at a time when pet ownership in the U.S. is peaking.”

This is also causing problems on the pet owner side as well, leading to increased wait times and higher costs, something that Spector himself experienced when he and his wife adopted a pandemic puppy.

“Even though we’ve been using telemedicine for ourselves and our kids during the lockdowns, I realized that pretty much any interaction I would need for my new pup would require me dragging him to the vet’s office, which is not only expensive, but time consuming,” he told me.

“It didn’t make sense that humans and even babies could chat with a doctor online and get medications prescribed, but pet parents could not.”

The end result is that many pet owners wind up waiting until their pet is experiencing a much larger issue before going to the vet, which is bad for the animal.

Dutch’s solution to these issues is to give pet owners 24/7 access to nearly 100 licensed veterinarians in all 50 states who they can connect with for non-emergency care via its virtual platform. The service costs $15 a month, and gives pet owners unlimited video chat access, as well as specialized treatment plans for their pet that can include therapeutics and behavioral modification advice.

Pet owners can also use the service for a health assessment, which requires them to answer a series of questions about their pet and their health, and to upload photos of their pet for Dutch’s vets to review. Once submitted, a Dutch-affiliated vet licensed in their state will follow-up with them with their initial thoughts and potential follow-up questions. The vet will then also issue a recommended treatment plan and be available to answer any questions.

Vets on the Dutch platform are prescribe medication for pets, but this is only available in states where Dutch-affiliated veterinarians are licensed, which includes Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, and Washington.

“With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, we saw a fast incline in pet ownership – the ‘pandemic pet boom,’ – which I think has opened the door to a multitude of new pet-focused business opportunities,” said Spector.

“Now more than ever people are finding strong companionship in their pets and are seeking ways to treat them more like family. We are now more willing to provide our pets with the quality products and services that meet our own standards. Dutch is no exception, providing our pets with the utmost care they deserve.”

Dutch was founded in 2021 and so far has served more than 25,000 pet parents in under a year, saving owners more than $200 per typical vet visit, partially due to its model of charging a monthly subscription rather than a per visit fee. The company chose this route because it creates more of a relationship between the company and its members, rather than a transactional experience, Spector explained.

“The solution is already so affordable, we didn’t want to make it complicated for the consumer or make them feel like they’re being nickel and dimed every time they want to speak with a vet. Additionally, an unlimited prescription model supports preventative care or helping pet parents avoid emergency situations,” he said.

This latest fundraising brings Dutch’s total capital to $25 million and the company plans to use it to invest in its IP, and to grow its EMR database so that pet parents can collect and store their pets’ data, including health records, Rx and OTC prescriptions, advice, in one central place.

It will also be growing its pharmacy network to enable same-day and next-day delivery, while also expanding its team across various divisions, growing its customer acquisition tools and strategy, and expanding its veterinary network.

The ultimate goal is to make this as easy as possible for the consumer by making the product offering and pricing transparent, high value, and customizable, said Spector.

“Over the next few years, Dutch will build out its membership perks that make it an easy decision for pet owners to choose and will introduce multiple modalities (text, call, video chat) so that our customers can choose how they want to communicate based on the condition their pet is in, what time of day they reach us, etc,” he told me.

“As standard as it is for new pet parents to make their first vet appointment upon bringing home their new family member, we want Dutch to be a no-brainer service that all owners know they need in order to receive the highest quality care for their pets.”

(Image source: dutch.com)

Go to Publisher: VatorNews
Author: