Dogs have long been regarded as man’s best friend. But let’s face it, all our pets are our best friends. In fact, we often treat them like family members. Technological advancements have brought about a proliferation of pet products and services to make our pets live like kings and queens.
Of course, for pets to live long and enjoyable lives, they need healthcare just like their human companions. When they are sick, they need to be checked by a vet, so there is a big demand for veterinary care. However, our animal friends are unique and they can’t tell us what’s wrong with them, so every health check is a diagnosing challenge for pet owners and vets alike.
Medtech expert Joe Mak founded ANIWEAR, based at Science Park, to research and develop a solution for conducting quick electrocardiogram(ECG) tests for pets. The solution drastically reduces the time, manpower and equipment needed for diagnosis while minimising the stress for cats, dogs and other pets during examination. The process is designed to keep every veterinary physician, owner and pet happy.
Quick diagnosis to support vet care
After working for the US Department of Health and Human Services, Joe became involved in artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis for a Silicon Valley startup. He has been taking part in medical research and frequenting hospitals for a number of years. He owns pets himself and takes them for regular health checks too. Comparing the medical experiences for humans and animals, he observed that both are similar in process and theory. The big difference though is that pets get nervous and squirm around and it takes time and effort to pacify them. Animals are stressed by medical examinations because the process is not designed for pets.
This prompted him to devise a first-in-the-market, tailor-made platform for pet ECGs. Amazingly, a vet or medical assistant can obtain ECG data by giving an animal patient a hug for 30 seconds! The back-end AI engine will conduct a quick analysis, and a professional report will be delivered to the clinic within 5-10 minutes.
Enabling early diagnosis for animal heart issues
ANIWEAR’s solution is helpful for pets with heart problems and its ease of use means it’s also conducive to early diagnosis and improved pet healthcare. Medical journals suggest that one in 10 cats has heart problems. About 75% of the middle-aged or elderly felines and canines (cats older than seven or large-breed dogs older than five) who are taken to the vet because of illness are found to have heart problems. As pets are quite adept at hiding their health issues, early heart ailments are difficult to detect. When symptoms appear, it might already be too late for treatment.
As well as providing instant diagnosis, ANIWEAR is collecting pet health data to form a database. This is linked to an AI engine to process breed-specific characteristics, such as breed, age and interpretation parameters, to enhance diagnostic accuracy.
Joe says the functions are practical as an ECG reading for humans and animals is different. There are only four ACVIM Board-certified veterinary cardiologists in Asia and each ECG examination costs between HK$1,000 and $2,000. As such, vets usually won’t recommend an ECG without strong reasons. By providing reliable evidence, ANIWEAR can help vets make an early diagnosis of heart problems and reduce the risk of heart-breaking health scares.
Expanding in Asia and serving the world
ANIWEAR has built a vet user network in Asia, extending from Hong Kong to Taiwan, Japan and Thailand. As the solution offers an accurate, quick and smooth diagnosis in answer to vet care needs, Joe says that clients often buy into the concept instantly. This also helps the company build the world’s only pet health database, which can be used for future pharmaceutical studies to enhance pet healthcare.
ANIWEAR set up at Science Park in 2017. Joe says that HKSTP has made its presence felt in the company’s development journey by opening doors and offering lots of valuable opinions and support. Through taking part in HKSTP’s overseas promotions, the company has established commercial links with partners and clients. He thinks the company can use HSKTP’s help in fund-raising, business expansion and recruitment down the road.
ANIWEAR is operating mainly on a B2B model at present but it won’t stop there. It has introduced a free vet consultation service on social media for consumers and received a positive response. Joe believes that its technology will have a much wider application in healthcare. It is no doubt a company to watch.