AI use cases in health care will apply to pets first

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Veterinarians earn a median annual salary of $119,100, less than half of what physicians make despite spending as much time in school, graduating with two-thirds as much student debt, and experiencing higher turnover. The result: 0.8 vets per 1,000 cats and dogs. The shortage of veterinary technicians is even worse. My niece studied to be a vet tech but switched out of the program when she realized three years of training would net her a job with a limited career path and low wages. 

One leader who thinks about this a lot is Kristin Peck, CEO of Zoetis, an $8.5 billion-a-year global leader in developing vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and other technologies for pets and livestock. Her clients are vets, so she’s been on the frontlines, trying to address issues through regulation and innovation. “We believe you need to create more licensure in vet tech, so they can do more things such as giving injections,” Peck says. With more robust certification and on-the-job training, she argues, technicians can help relieve pressure on vets—and build more rewarding careers. 

AI also promises to unlock productivity in pet care. In fact, some of the most creative use cases for AI and health tech are likely to emerge first in the animal realm, where patients are unencumbered by privacy laws and other well-intentioned regulations. Zoetis, for one, has an AI-powered device that can quickly diagnose disease from blood, urine and other samples. Meanwhile, Nestlé Purina Petcare North America CEO Nina Leigh Krueger recently told me about her company’s innovations in tech-enabled pet health monitoring. “They want to know, ‘Is my pet getting enough exercise? Is it eating the right amount?’” she says. My personal favorite: a smart litter box that alerts cat owners to changes in habits that may indicate health issues. “We know from years of research how important pets are to our mental health,” she adds. 

And if you doubt that, consider that Chewy CEO Sumit Singh lets everyone bring their pets to work, potbellied pigs and all. As he told Michal Lev-Ram and Alan Murray in a recent Leadership Next podcast, the pet business “used to be a sleepy category” that’s become the next frontier for innovation as technology allows for greater personalization and joy—for animals, their owners, and the professionals who care for them.

Meanwhile, as Alan prepares to move on to his next venture, we’ve received a lot of comments from CEOs on why Fortune is important to them. Here’s one that really resonated with me. 

Fortune’s thought-provoking content and insightful articles have been an incredible resource for me and my fellow leaders as we all navigate an increasingly complex landscape. In an era where we are being bombarded with so much information, Fortune helps me stay current on market trends, business strategies and leadership advice.

–Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO, TIAA

More news below.

Diane Brady
@dianebrady
[email protected]

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This edition of CEO Daily was curated by Nicholas Gordon. 

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