CAVSNET Overview



Research Priorities

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does CAVSNET work?

CAVSNET operates though integration with veterinary electronic health record (EHR) software systems. Interested EHR vendors work with the CAVSNET Team to enable secure data transfer. Clinics that use a CAVSNET-compatible EHR can then opt in to participate in CAVSNET. Data are automatically and passively submitted to the CAVSNET Team with minimal effort required of the veterinary practice.

How does CAVSNET benefit veterinarians and veterinary clinics?

With the CAVSNET Dashboard, participating clinics can view their own practice data (e.g., prescriptions, patient demographics), see benchmark metrics comparing their data to those of other clinics, and set targets for practice initiatives. In a March 2018 Minnesota survey, 86% of responding veterinarians said that benchmarking against anonymous peers would be useful to them.2 In addition to these individual benefits, CAVSNET will provide valuable near real-time information to the wider veterinary profession about companion animal disease. In the future, clinicians and other animal-health professionals will be able to use the CAVSNET website to visualize syndromic (e.g., gastrointestinal, respiratory) and disease-specific (e.g., parvovirus, canine influenza) incidence data in their area. This information will provide situational awareness and empower clinicians to use data to communicate the importance of disease prevention to pet owners.

How does CAVSNET benefit electronic health record software vendors?

CAVSNET can increase the value of any EHR system by providing the capability for participating clinics to track their own practice data, benchmark practices against those of other clinics, and contribute to disease surveillance that benefits animal health and the entire veterinary community. The CAVSNET system overcomes the barriers of clinic ownership, geographic location, varied software systems, and facility technical expertise and capacity to collect data from diverse veterinary clinics with minimal resource investment. Incorporation of CAVSNET provides EHR systems with the value-added ability to track, benchmark, and set goals for only the expense of the programming time that it takes to become CAVSNET-compatible.

In the U.S., no national or state-level programs are in place to track companion animal disease, despite the positive impact that such surveillance might have on animal health, and the importance of these species to human health and wellbeing. CAVSNET takes a step toward filling this gap, and CAVSNET partners will be recognized for their contributions to the broad mission of improving animal health and advancing the veterinary profession. Additionally, should reporting of practice (e.g., antibiotic prescribing) or animal disease be mandated in the future, CAVSNET-capable EHR systems will likely be well-positioned to meet those requirements.

How does CAVSNET benefit animal and public health?

CAVSNET is the first surveillance system in the U.S. structured to gather sustainable data on companion animal disease and veterinary practice. Infectious and chronic animal diseases can be monitored by individual clinics and at population level (e.g., locally, statewide, nationally). In addition, zoonotic and vector-borne diseases of human health importance, such as leptospirosis, influenza, and Lyme disease, can be monitored for public health awareness and targeted prevention messaging. CAVSNET is also a powerful tool in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, or the ability of microbes to evade the effects of drugs meant to kill them or slow their growth. Resistant organisms and antimicrobial use, a major driver of antimicrobial resistance, are both tracked in CAVSNET. Tracking antimicrobial use is an important part of antimicrobial stewardship, or the process of improving antimicrobial use while effectively treating infections.3 Tools for measuring antimicrobial use in veterinary medicine are rare. CAVSNET tracks prescriptions by species, clinical syndrome, and drug type, facilitating identification of intervention opportunities and progress tracking. CAVSNET data also provide valuable population measures of antimicrobial use, which can be used for goal-setting for prescribing improvement in the veterinary profession. CAVSNET has the potential to become a comprehensive national surveillance system, vastly expanding our knowledge of animal disease and veterinary practice.

Do veterinarians want to participate in disease surveillance?

Veterinarians are ready and eager to participate in companion animal disease surveillance. Of 261 responding Minnesota veterinarians surveyed in March 2018, 244 (94%) think veterinarians should contribute anonymized data to a disease surveillance system, and 220 (85%) would be willing to participate in automated submission of anonymized animal health data.2 Most (86%) would find it useful to benchmark their practices (e.g., antibiotic use) against those of other veterinarians. 2

Additionally, of 187 U.S. pet owners surveyed in 2020, 180 (96%) said they think a monitoring system for diseases should exist, and 180 (96%) said they would be willing to have their pet's data included in an electronic surveillance system.

Why should we track antimicrobial use?

Antibiotics are critical for medicine, but the problem of antimicrobial resistance threatens the effectiveness of these valuable drugs. Widespread use of antibiotics is a major driver of resistance, because bacteria adapt over time to evade antibiotic effects. In human and animal health settings, the problem of antimicrobial resistance has led to infections that are more difficult to treat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have identified essential strategies to combat antimicrobial resistance, including improvement of how antibiotics are used (antimicrobial stewardship). Measurement and tracking of antimicrobial use and resistant organisms is critical to our ability to practice antimicrobial stewardship. In the U.S., no national or state-level programs are in place to track antimicrobial use in companion animals, despite the acknowledged importance of this sector to both the antimicrobial resistance problem and the solution of antimicrobial stewardship.

The CAVSNET and point prevalence survey approaches allows us to overcome barriers to antimicrobial use and resistance tracking, including information technology challenges, human resource constraints, lack of standardized clinical and laboratory documentation, and nascent awareness of antimicrobial stewardship in clinical practice.

How do CAVSNET data empower veterinarians and clinics?

Individual clinics and clinic groups participating in CAVSNET can view their own data (e.g., diagnoses, prescribing, patient demographics), access benchmarking metrics showing how their practices compare to those of others, and set targets for practice initiatives. In a March 2018 survey of Minnesota veterinarians, 85% of respondents agreed that benchmarking against anonymized peers would be useful. In addition to these individual benefits, CAVSNET provides valuable near real-time information to the wider veterinary profession about companion animal disease. Clinicians and other animal health professionals can use the CAVSNET website to visualize syndromic (e.g., gastrointestinal, respiratory) and disease-specific (e.g., multidrug-resistant infection) incidence data in their area. This information provides situational awareness and empowers clinicians to use data to communicate the importance of disease prevention to pet owners.

Antimicrobial use data acquired through CAVSNET can be used to support antimicrobial stewardship action in individual veterinary practices. For example, antibiotic drug class data can be used to track the impact of efforts to align empiric prescribing with recommendations for first-line antibiotic use.Benchmarking of antimicrobial use in comparison to anonymized peers can help clinics to identify areas where they might be able to improve prescribing practice. CAVSNET antimicrobial use data can be analyzed by drug class, route (e.g., oral, topical), priority (WHO: Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics), and species. An example report can be downloaded at SAVSNET: mySAVSNET AMR example feedback report.

How will the CAVSNET Team use antimicrobial use data to foster veterinary stewardship?

In addition to individual clinic access to their antimicrobial use and disease data for internal tracking and external benchmarking, the CAVSNET Team will develop aggregate summaries of antimicrobial use, antimicrobial resistance, and related clinical practices, and is developing resources and tools to support antimicrobial resistance programs in companion animal clinics. These resources will be freely available on a veterinary antimicrobial stewardship website and will be distributed at professional conferences and meetings and through professional groups. By compiling aggregate antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance data summaries, CAVSNET will help define baseline practice and measure antimicrobial stewardship progress of the profession over time.

De-identified data will also be used to guide U.S. research and veterinary priorities in the areas of antimicrobial stewardship, antimicrobial use, and antimicrobial resistance. SAVSNET has harnessed U.K. data to describe how antibiotics are used and to identify opportunities for improvement.

How will CAVSNET data be presented and shared?

All data collected are de-identified and will be analyzed by CAVSNET or approved partners. These researchers will prepare scientific papers for the veterinary profession, wider scientific community, and general public. Information might be communicated through publications, conferences, webinars, and social media, as well as other media as appropriate. Anonymous data might be used to provided to supporting partners to ensure the financial sustainability of CAVSNET, thereby helping to ensure that pets and the veterinary profession will continue to benefit.