Mining Data for Better Veterinary Care


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3 Questions with Dr. Jules Benson


  1. Why did you want to get into the pet insurance space?

I was in practice in Pennsylvania but knew I didn’t want to practice forever when I was offered an opportunity to do something different. It was one of those things where if it didn’t work out, I could always go back to practice. For me, the data and the ability to use that to improve the quality of pets’ lives have always been the attraction.

We’re able to have a lot of freedom in the space and to take a different view than the rest of the industry. For instance, the rest of the industry is interested in asking, “How do we increase the level of care at every stage?” In the insurance space, we’re interested in asking, “How do we help pet families get the level of care that’s most appropriate for them?” and “How do we keep premiums reasonable?” It keeps a healthy conversation going with the rest of the industry.


  1. Can data improve the veterinary-client relationship?

We just finished some work looking at the subconscious drivers of behavior around receiving veterinary care and how pet families want to receive care. Who are they? What are their feelings about paying for care? What are their feelings about convenience? What are their feelings about the feedback they’re getting from the healthcare team?

For us, combining the communications aspect with an evidence-based approach to care that’s something I feel has been missing from practice for a while because that’s ultimately what consumers are saying. They want solutions that work for them from a cost, convenience, and communication point of view, rather than the doctor or veterinary healthcare team recommending the most advanced level of care in every situation.

Our research supports an opportunity to bring that back a little bit and then inject some evidence into it, which is hard to come by. Providing evidence-based data is really difficult, but I think we have the data to do it, and I think we have the platform to make it work.


  1. What’s the potential for data advancing clinical outcomes?

Right now, we’re focused on early detection, and we see the opportunity to understand disease management better as well. Knowing that we have millions of years of data as we drill into it, can we get a better understanding of the granular data?

For example, we can look at cruciate ligament disease. We can see the pets that had surgery and that their NSAID usage over a period of time was X, Y, and Z. We can see if they had hydrotherapy. And we can see if these things led to a better recovery. So for us, the real goal is to use these data to increase our evidence-based medicine.



Dr. Jules Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer at Nationwide, is an experienced executive in the animal health field. Before coming to Nationwide’s pet health insurance unit, he was on the start-up team of a pet health company and then assisted other veterinary and medical companies as an executive specializing in healthcare marketing and strategy.