IDEXX Laboratories: Diagnostic Innovation for Healthier Pets Using Google Cloud Platform

IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. serves veterinarians around the world with a broad range of diagnostic and information technology-based products and services. As customers of IDEXX, veterinarians have access to some of the most innovative testing products available, enabling fast and accurate diagnosis of a wide variety of pet health issues including kidney disease, canine influenza, common bacterial infections, and more.

Helping veterinarians provide the highest quality care through excellence in diagnostics means IDEXX consistently delivers on its organizational mission to enhance the health and well-being of pets. Diagnostic test results are vital to helping veterinarians understand pet wellness. Accurate and easy-to-administer testing and expeditious delivery of results means potential health threats are identified quickly, resulting in the swift delivery of treatment and optimized service for pet owners.

To support its mission, IDEXX launched the VetConnect® PLUS platform. VetConnect PLUS supports clinical decision-making by providing fast and easy access to complete diagnostic test information anytime, from any location, accessible through veterinary practice management systems, web, tablet or mobile devices running iOS or Android. Veterinarians and their staff can use VetConnect PLUS to view test order status, results, and diagnostic history, order new tests, manage results data, and view diagnostic images such as radiographs. Results can be shared with clients through the IDEXX Pet Health Network® Pro online pet pages, posted to the site through VetConnect PLUS using a few simple steps. VetConnect PLUS also tracks all emails, reports, and other information shared by veterinarians with pet owners and labs.

Developing and delivering VetConnect PLUS required a rich understanding of client needs and expertise in desktop, web, and mobile application development and back-end technology infrastructure. Time to market was important, and with limited technology resources, using a public cloud provider proved to be the best option for delivering VetConnect PLUS to clients.

After evaluating alternatives, IDEXX chose to run VetConnect PLUS on Google Cloud Platform. IDEXX chose Google Cloud Platform™ because it provided the cloud infrastructure stability, scalability, and security capabilities required to deliver the platform and eliminated the administration and DevOps overhead associated with an on-premises alternative.

“By building on Google Cloud Platform, we were able to deliver the clinical decision making benefits of the VetConnect PLUS platform to our veterinary clients quickly and reliably, making efficient use of our existing development resources.” — Jeffrey Dixon, Corporate Vice President and Chief Software Engineering Officer, IDEXX Laboratories

Scalability for better customer experience

VetConnect PLUS provides access to more than one billion test results for over 30,000 veterinary practices around the world. In order to scale and provide a reliable, consistent customer experience regardless of spikes in traffic, the Java-based app runs on Google App Engine.

“Traffic to VetConnect PLUS is very spikey—it slows down on weekends and peaks on Monday mornings, consistent with ebbs and flows of cases into veterinary offices. App Engine scales automatically to accommodate these spikes, so we don’t need to worry about application performance or crashing due to platform capacity issues,” says Dixon.

App Engine has built-in services and APIs which enable easy integration with standard mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android and enables VetConnect PLUS users to authenticate using their existing IDEXX VetConnect account. In addition, App Engine APIs are used to stream data from medical-testing devices to Google Cloud Datastore, which serves as the primary database for VetConnect PLUS. Cloud Datastore has scaled without performance reduction or the need for a database administrator as VetConnect PLUS has grown, supporting over 30 terabytes of data.

Google Cloud Storage stores email and other communications, making it easy for veterinarians to keep track of all communications with pet owners and clinics. Google Cloud Platform security features help protect data shared and accessed through the app from threats so that it can be accessed only by its intended recipient.

“Google Cloud Platform security features help give us peace of mind about the security and protection of our customers’ data,” says Dixon.

New VetConnect PLUS features are easily rolled out to customers using Google Cloud Platform. With the ability to quickly and cost-effectively replicate the application, new capabilities can be developed and deployed to a subset of users and then incorporated into the core product if well received. This supports continuous innovation and provides a great experience for customers using the app, helping IDEXX stay ahead of its competitors.

Increasing revenue, cutting costs, improving customer loyalty

Over the course of 5 years, IDEXX has invested more than $450M in research and development, more than 5x the amount invested by its nearest competitor. IDEXX has built its reputation on a commitment to serving the veterinary profession through innovation—a commitment that reveals itself through scientific breakthroughs and the supporting technologies that bring these innovations to market, including VetConnect PLUS.

With VetConnect PLUS running on Google Cloud Platform, IDEXX has increased customer loyalty and boosted incremental revenue, while keeping technology expenditures low. When compared to running an equivalent application in a data center, according to IDEXX, the organization is avoiding an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 a year in IT costs.

“Because VetConnect PLUS offers a differentiated, improved experience for users, IDEXX customers who use the app exhibit higher loyalty than customers who don’t, which is important in a recurring revenue business model” Dixon says. “This translates into high customer satisfaction, higher recurring revenue growth, and keeps us profoundly differentiated from the competition.”

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