Telemedicine is not new to the medical field; human medical doctors have been using this platform for many years. The initial hurdle was to overcome state and federal laws requiring and defining a doctor/patient relationship.
In the last several years, we have seen an increase in such services in the veterinary world, culminating with Banfield’s recent news that they were delving into this technology by launching “Vet Chat”. This new advancement allows members of the hospital’s Optimum Wellness Plan on-demand access to pet care advice and support from a veterinarian anytime and anywhere.
A recent Banfield survey shows that 71 percent of pet owners turn to the internet instead of their veterinarian. According to the survey, 75 percent of veterinarians agree that knowing how long to wait before consulting a veterinarian is one of the biggest challenges their clients face. Also, 90 percent of veterinarians worry that pet owners may unknowingly put their pet at higher risk by taking bad advice from the internet.
Does the world need televets?
“I don’t know if we need veterinarians who are strictly “televets” but I have found that clients really like veterinarians who effectively incorporate “tele” into their practice. In the past, this was strictly the telephone, but now clients are communicating with veterinarians via Facebook, SMS, WhatsApp, email, etc.”
How can we use telemedicine with our clients?
“Almost all veterinarians practice telemedicine already. Clients will contact the clinic or doctor on the telephone, SMS or email with questions, and the doctor will communicate directions and/or advice remotely. I have found the most needed “tele” communication is post diagnosis or surgery. Almost all veterinarians are televets already, but are not monetizing the process. Thankfully there is technology available now that makes the process of collecting fees for telemedicine much easier.”
Why did you become a televet?
“I started practice as an ambulatory equine veterinarian and got comfortable talking with clients about medical problems over the phone. Once technology advanced and most people were communicating via text, I started looking for a way to allow my clients to text me and preserve my work/life balance.”
What is the best part and worst part of your job?
“The best part is helping people. We are using telemedicine to connect specialists to our clients so more people have access to the best care. The worst part is that some problems can’t be fixed virtually.” +