Policy addresses ownership, stewardship of practice data

Published on
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

The AVMA has adopted a set of principles for ownership and stewardship of veterinary practice data to reflect the values of the veterinary profession, the obligations veterinarians owe to their clients, and the rights of veterinarians to control their data.

The principles address growing concerns over medical record confidentiality and client privacy. As explained by the authors of a Viewpoint article published in the Aug. 1, 2019, JAVMA, software companies and vendors frequently obtain rights to access and use practice data beyond what's necessary to provide services. Moreover, software companies and vendors sometimes use these data for their own marketing or share these data with third parties that want to market their products and services to clinics and their clients.

The article's authors are from the law firm Ice Miller LLP and Veterinary Study Groups Inc. Veterinary Study Groups is the umbrella organization for more than 40 collaborative veterinary management groups comprising over 700 veterinarians who own nearly a thousand independent practices throughout the United States and Canada.

Cat with a laptop on a sofa

During a June conference call, the AVMA Board of Directors voted to adopt the policy "Principles of Data Ownership and Stewardship," developed by Veterinary Study Groups and edited by the AVMA Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee and AVMA Veterinary Economics Division.

The principles are as follows:

  1. Veterinary practices own their practice data.
  2. Control is a necessary condition of data ownership.
  3. Practice data should be portable and accessible.
  4. Prior consent is the foundation of proper data use.
  5. Data licensees should be transparent in their use of practice data.
  6. Veterinary practices should be able to limit and withdraw consent.
  7. Data should only be used for known lawful purposes.
  8. Data licensees should collect only the minimum required data.
  9. Data licensees should retain practice data only for the requisite time period.
  10. Data licensees should be responsible for their own and their licensees' use of veterinary practice data.
  11. Data licensees should maintain the confidentiality and privacy of veterinary practice data.

"The recognition of a common set of principles around data stewardship and ownership is a watershed moment for the veterinary profession," said Matthew Salois, PhD, the AVMA's chief economist. "Data is a key strategic asset for the practice and for the profession and has the potential to unlock limitless value for both the veterinarian and the pet owner.

"The principles set forth by the Veterinary Study Groups, in collaboration with the AVMA, provide an important north star for the profession by laying the foundation for industry-wide alignment on how we can collectively safeguard and uphold the integrity and stewardship of our practice data."

Webinar digs into using data to inform care, business
AVMA Axon is offering the on-demand webinar "Transform Your Practice with Big Data" for one continuing education credit. Dr. Kerri Marshall, chief veterinary officer of BabelBark, talks about how practices can learn to use data to discover patterns and trends in clients’ behavior and deliver more personalized patient care. Dr. Marshall also explores how to harness data to expand telehealth opportunities in the practice, build deeper relationships with clients, and deliver more-precise animal therapy. The webinar is free for AVMA members and $25 for nonmembers.