Here’s an apples-to-apples comparison between Sofie and VIN, based on survey and focus group research from veterinarians collected from an impartial third party. Why are we sharing this information?
While Sofie and VIN are both veterinary medical search tools, Sofie is different from VIN in several ways. Yet we discovered that many veterinarians believe Sofie is the same as VIN. Given the importance of veterinary medical search tools in the daily diagnosis and treatment of patients, we felt it was important to provide more information on the topic and to clarify both the similarities and differences between Sofie and VIN. Our clarification does not come as a criticism or recommendation against VIN, or any other veterinary medical search tool. (We want to make this perfectly clear.) We simply believe that having more information helps with decisions. To support this, we offer this clarification to show how Sofie, at the very least, serves as a complement to VIN.
To preserve their privacy, we kept the names of survey respondents confidential.
Let’s begin with one of the foremost questions asked by veterinarians.
How does Sofie’s Knowledge Base Compare to VIN?
Based on focus group research, veterinarians expressed satisfaction toward VIN’s peer-to-peer community forum for answers and assistance with cases. One respondent said, “I’m very new and not a lot of things are yet routine for me.” When stuck for time, the respondent said, “I will go to VIN before a textbook.”
Citing what they did not enjoy about VIN (or at least were cautious about), respondents identified user-experience, whether information may be current, time consumption to find information, and the subjective nature of VIN’s community forum. A few examples:
- “The VIN website is not very user-friendly.”
- “The downside is there is a lot of information to go through and you have to be careful because sometimes you’ll be going through something that is a lot older and maybe that’s not the best now.”
- “It becomes quite time-consuming. I don’t have time in the middle of my day to sit and read through everything.”
- “Have to take it with a grain of salt. If it’s from people I’ve worked with before and respect their opinion, I will value that more. But some people just want to share their opinions without being as knowledgeable.”
Sofie does not have a community forum at this time. However, Sofie has an online knowledge base of over 40,000 pages of peer-reviewed, evidence-based reference materials from over 25 of the top veterinary textbooks, , and conference proceedings, accessible from any internet-enabled device and continually being updated with new veterinary medical content.
Sofie’s lack of a community forum appealed to respondents:
- “Sofie is more efficient. I won’t get an individual opinion on Sofie.”
- “I use Sofie like Google—the search engine is really good.”
- “Speed at which you can get answers, and with LifeLearn Sofie, the comprehensive search function (get current peer-reviewed info quickly and get multiple pieces of info).”
The preferred speed and efficiency cited by respondents comes from what lies at the heart of Sofie—IBM Watson®, an innovative, cognitive computing system that uses augmented intelligence to rapidly search multiple sources at once and deliver information from Sofie’s vast information library, containing over $5000 worth of veterinary medical information.
In addition to searching by keywords as you would with other search engines, Sofie is also designed to respond to natural-language questions—just like you would ask a colleague—and delivers results based on context. This makes searching and finding answers easy and quick, whether you need:
- Drug formularies
- Differential diagnoses
- Diagnostic algorithms
- Emergency treatment for toxins
- A specific topic search
What About Client Education?
Sofie is a purpose-built tool. For client education, LifeLearn provides ClientEd, a unique pet health education library designed to strengthen the veterinary team’s role as animal health educators. Organized into categories and searchable by keyword, ClientEd contains more than 2,100 expert-written client education handouts that can be emailed or printed. VIN similarly provides veterinarians and team members with access to pet health information (organized into categories and searchable by keyword) that can be emailed or printed through its client education website, Veterinary Partner.
What differentiates ClientEd is personalization and customization. For a nominal monthly cost of $55 (USD/CAD), ClientEd is available as a standalone resource or can be integrated into practice management software systems and websites (including WebDVM websites), which streamlines workflows. Practices can brand ClientEd handouts to enhance their connection with clients and marketing efforts, and veterinary team members can also edit ClientEd content and create their own handouts with information tailored to match a practice’s beliefs and health recommendations.
How Does Sofie Compare in Price?
At the time of this blog, individual membership to VIN (before taxes) was $65 per month. Sofie is $44 per month. So, Sofie represents a yearly before-tax savings of $252.
What About Free Trials?
Sofie offers a free, no-credit card 30-day free trial for people to assess Sofie for themselves. VIN similarly offers a free 30-day trial membership but requires credit card for sign up.
To assist veterinary medical students in their studies and clinical rotations without adding to the high cost of veterinary medical education, LifeLearn also currently offers a free subscription to Sofie (comparable to VIN) for all students enrolled in an accredited veterinary doctorate program.
Final note: After hearing about Sofie, some focus group participants expressed skepticism by saying that Sofie “sounds too good to be true.” We appreciate skepticism, which is why we encourage veterinarians to try Sofie for free and discover for themselves why thousands of DVMs are now using Sofie.