Barkibu: Bringing Health Coverage to Man’s Best Friend
Pets are a part of the family, and protecting them has become more than just an extra effort by pet owners but rather an increasingly needed contingency for animal ownership. This growth comes from the fact that pet healthcare, and by proxy pet insurance, has perpetuated a broken system to date. Many pet parents have been forced to pay through the nose in order to take care of their furry friends’ needs, with scant options for coverage—leading to most paying expensive bills out of pocket.
As a human, you go to a different doctor for different things—heart, skin, eyes, teeth, etc. Under the care of different health centers focused on these specialties, you are typically covered under the overarching insurance plan that you have. But oftentimes with our pets, we go to one provider for a variety of different services and have to pay for each one separately—which can really start to add up. This is especially expensive in the time of an accident or sudden illness, which many insurance companies shy away from coverage for pets.
Some pet insurance companies are starting to make changes for the better however, and cutting edge businesses in the industry are working to patch these disparities. In fact, the European Pet Insurance Market is estimated at 830 million USD in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.8% to reach approximately 1710 million USD by 2026. With pet healthcare a somewhat new, yet growing space, the question of what should be expected comes to mind. One company, Barkibu, is setting the precedent for pet insurance in Europe and Latin America, and trailblazing new parameters for pet care in 2022.
Artificial Intelligence for Pet Diagnosis
Barkibu’s mission is founded on the belief that most pet-health-related problems can be solved by automated consumer experiences built on top of structured pet-health data. They aim to build that future by combining several innovations to help better inform owners about caring for their pets—expanding the tools for maintaining pets’ wellbeing.
The first cutting-edge health solution by Barkibu is what they have termed as the AI Vet, which uses AI capacities to gather data and make highly informed conclusions about a pet’s health conditions. The AI Vet intelligent bot uses insight from veterinarians, as well as from pet owners, to understand what possible problems could be. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to glean keywords and understand symptoms, the AI is able to determine common ailments and diseases. Then the AI’s machine learning is used to match the symptoms to the most plausible root cause, drawing highly intelligent conclusions, and covering more than 90% of diseases found in dogs and cats.
Before launching their AI Vet, Barkibu started by gathering consensual data from thousands of pet consultations completed by veterinarians. Using this insight, they then test drove the intelligent bot to see how its accuracy fared in actual pet diagnosis online. It was found that in these theoretical tests, comparing the proposed AI answer to the professional veterinarian answer, that the AI Vet was accurate 92% of the time. Through this investigative analysis, the case study testing proved that the AI Vet was ready for the real world.
One example of a relevant use case for this technology is when you are taking care of a family or friend’s pet that you’re not familiar with. With AI Vet, people are given quick and accurate advice without having to try and call a vet and wait for precious minutes to talk to the correct person for the pet’s needs. Rather than trying to replace clinics, Barkibu is working to commence a new era of pet healthcare that is led by more precise, attainable, and immediate knowledge on pets and their medical needs.
Combining Care Coverage With Needed Technological Innovations
Other common problems with pets’ insurance is the fact that the format offered is bundled services, with some specialists and surgeons peppered in—typically with coverage only in a very specific set of circumstances. But in the end, if the time arises when your furry friend needs help, pet owners often have no understanding of what needs to happen, or how much it might cost before they get there. This makes for a bunch of disparate costs and no comprehension of what was wrong with their companion in the first place.
This is where Barkibu is different. In addition to providing the extremely valuable resource of the AI Vet, Barkibu also offers telehealth with their pet insurance—working in collaboration with experienced operators, engineers, and product builders to make it a feasible virtual avenue for pet healthcare. This helps to even further expand pet owners’ ability to assist their dog or cat’s care, right from home, and helps to close the existing gaps of understanding with their pet’s wellbeing.
Barkibu doesn’t see itself as an insurance company, because they don’t move on the same metrics as an insurance company. With an end goal to help as many pet owners as they can, they use deep engagement with their customers through these technological capacities and are available 24/7 to answer any questions.
This symbiotic relationship between Barkibu and their customers is a win, win—because the more they are able to answer pet health questions, the more they are able to feed their AI Vet and Telehealth platform databases. Generating valuable insight, the data creates a positive cycle that circles back to help more pets with more accurate diagnoses.
The app uses all of these learning digital innovations to customize suggestions and healthcare for each pet and pet owner, helping pet owners to always be informed. With easy day-to-day interactions to help prevent problems, immediate attention 24/7 with the AI Vet when owners have concerning health questions, and the capacity to have a vet look at their pet via the telehealth app if need be—Barkibu is truly transforming the way we can care for our furry companions.
With Knowledge Comes Power
Changing the way that pet insurance companies are viewed, Barkibu is a business not just there in the time of accidents, but rather all of the time—for both pet and pet owners alike. This prompts pet owners to naturally trust and use their app, helping them to help you.
The pet healthcare sector will be radically transformed with more approachable and accurate solutions for pets’ wellbeing. With knowledge comes power, and Barkibu is working to build a brighter future of care for cats and dogs through automated data consumer products—manifesting a platform to which pet owners can rest assured that their companions are covered.
Disclaimer: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company