Dutch veterinary telemedicine platform raises $20 million

Company gives pet parents virtual access to nearly 100 veterinarians across the country

Much has been made of physician burnout, especially during the pandemic, when it has only gotten worse. It’s not just human doctors who are suffering, however, the same is happening to vets, the percentage of vets with severe psychological distress has increased from 6.4% in 2019 to 9.7% in 2021, while nearly half of staff, and about a third of veterinarians reported high levels of burnout.

There are several things happening at the same time to cause this increase in mental health issues, including pandemic restrictions, staffing shortages and pet adoptions which have increased by almost 70% during the pandemic.

Now the pet and veterinary industries are facing an unexpected challenge to meet 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. Adventures Thursday.

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

“Fewer veterinarians than ever have recently entered the market at a time when pet ownership in the United States is at its peak.”

It also causes problems on the pet owner’s side, leading to increased wait times and higher costs, which 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’ve realized that pretty much any interaction I’d need for my new pup would require me to drag him to the vet, 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 prescribed medicine, but pet parents couldn’t.”

The end result is that many pet owners end up waiting until their pet has a much bigger problem before going to the vet, which is bad for the pet.

Dutch’s solution to these problems is to give pet owners 24/7 access to nearly 100 licensed veterinarians in all 50 states that they can connect with for non-emergency care through its virtual platform. The service costs $15 per month and offers pet owners unlimited access to video chat, as well as specialized treatment plans for their pet that can include therapy and behavior modification counseling.

Pet owners can also use the service for a health assessment, which requires them to answer a series of questions about their pet and its health, and upload photos of their pet for Dutch vets to examine. . Once submitted, a Netherlands-affiliated veterinarian licensed in their state will follow up 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 Netherlands platform prescribe medication for pets, but this is only available in states where Netherlands-affiliated vets 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 have seen a rapid increase in pet ownership – the ‘pandemic pet boom’ – which I believe has opened the door to a host of new opportunities. pet-focused business,” Spector said.

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

Dutch was founded in 2021 and has so far served over 25,000 pet owners in less than a year, saving owners over $200 per typical vet visit, thanks in part to its billing model of a monthly subscription rather than a per-visit fee. The company chose this path 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 that we didn’t want to complicate things for the consumer or make them feel slick and obfuscated every time they want to speak with a veterinarian. Plus, an unlimited prescription model takes support preventative care or help pet owners avoid emergency situations,” he said.

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

It will also expand its pharmacy network to enable same-day and next-day delivery, while expanding its team across various divisions, developing 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 product offerings and pricing transparent, high-value and customizable, Spector said.

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

“As standard as it is for new pet parents to make their first vet appointment after bringing home their new family member, we want Dutch to be a simple service that all owners know they need to receive the highest quality care for their pets.”

(Image source: dutch.com)

About Hector Hedgepeth

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