FAQs for Practices

How do I get involved?

If you want your practice to be part of this exciting project, go to our Get Involved page where you can read the full Participant Information Statement and complete the Practice Consent Form.

What information is collected?

VetCompass will collect records of each animal’s visit, including patient demographics (species, breed, colour, date of birth, sex, neuter status, microchip number, insurance status, body measurements in a queryable format and owner’s postcode) and clinical information (clinical notes, presenting complaint, diagnosis, treatment, cost and deceased status with relevant dates). Animals are not named but each one is given a unique number to identify it. This is necessary to collate a complete case history from separate visit events. It will enable the project to refer to the animal’s records in the future, if required, to check data validity and record animals with conditions of specific interest for future research.

VetCompass will not collect any client information apart from the postcode. This may be used to establish clusters of disease in a particular geographic area.

A researcher may need to ask the practice with the animal identifier code for further clinical details, laboratory or referral reports on the animal in order to validate accuracy and completeness of data. Participation in VetCompass does not obligate you to provide extra records. If you do provide them, we would give you an additional consent form to sign and send a letter of request and consent to the client for voluntary participation in this further study involving their animal.

How much time will this take me?

Participation in VetCompass has been designed so that it does not impinge on the time, efficiency or efficacy of a busy practice. Generally, no further time will be added to the consultation, as patient information will be recorded as normal. Initially, coding using VeNom diagnosis may involve some thinking time. However, you are not required to make an entry in the VeNom field if you do not wish. There will be a small amount of time needed at the outset, but as the data extraction process is automated there will be no ongoing time burden on the practice.

What are the benefits of participating in this study?

The VetCompass Australia database will provide a better understanding of disease risk factors for common disorders. This type of information about the overall companion animal population in Australia, which has great relevance for practicing veterinarians, is currently difficult to access. Information in the database will enable us to rank the welfare impact of different disorders and prioritise future disease-prevention strategies. Other beneficiaries of VetCompass Australia will be everyone working in the pet-health sector as they strive to improve the health and wellbeing of our companion animals.

The VetCompass project will benefit many aspects of veterinary practice:

  • It will provide broad coverage of clinical information relevant to practising veterinarians. It will return information from the project to your practice via peer-reviewed literature and our website. Summary information will be available to the public and will help in education of prevention and control of common animal diseases.
  • Extra publicity and proof of commitment to improved animal welfare by having your practice logo on the VetCompass website, with a hyperlink to your practice website.
  • If you choose to use VeNom standardised codes, there will be many benefits including increased ease of internal analysis of practice data and clinical audits, facilitation of insurance claims and improved record taking which encourages diagnosis-driven, rather than symptom-led therapeutic protocols. Even if you don’t choose to use VeNom codes, your practice will still see the benefits of a commitment to improved record keeping.
  • Increased public perception of your practice as engaging with national scientific research to improve animal welfare.
  • Increased staff motivation due to engagement in a project that tackles the continuing problem of unnecessarily high frequencies of certain disorders in certain breeds.

Is the study confidential?

All aspects of the study will be strictly confidential and only researchers in VetCompass or collaborating research projects, such as VetCompass at RVC London, will have access to the raw data. The results of analyses on data you provide will be submitted for publication in scientific papers, PhD theses and VetCompass websites. Individual practices, animals or clients will not be identifiable in any of these reports.

Data collection, storage and analysis are compliant with Privacy legislation and have approval from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee (Project No. 2013/919).

Can I withdraw from the study?

Consenting to be in this study is completely voluntary and you are not under any obligation to do so. If you do consent, you can withdraw at any time prior to exporting data to VetCompass without affecting your relationship with The University of Sydney. If you choose to withdraw, contact a member of the project team who will cease data collection from that moment. Once data is exported to VetCompass, it is an indication of practice consent for that data to be used for the purposes outlined in the Participant Information Statement.

What if a client does not want their pet’s records to be included?

If a client does not want their pet’s health information used in the VetCompass Australia project, they must inform any member of the veterinary practice team who will record this in the animal’s records. We will not use any records from this client’s animals in our studies.

What are VeNom codes and do I need to use them?

VeNom Codes are a standard set of clinical veterinary terms developed by a team at the Royal Veterinary College, London, UK. To find out more, please go to the VeNom Coding site.

Although not essential for participation in this project, the use of VeNom standardised codes is recommended. Your practice records will be more consistent and easier for you to access for internal analysis of practice data and clinical audits if you use these standardised codes.

How will my clients know that my practice is participating in VetCompass Australia?

Your practice will be supplied with a VetCompass Australia poster and brochures. We will also add the logos of participating practices to this website with a hyperlink to the practice websites.

How do I find out more?

Please contact us if you are interested in participating in the VetCompass Australia project or if you have any further questions that have not been addressed here.