Veterinary Telehealth Companies
There is a spectrum of Telehealth companies that are occupying the veterinary space. There are companies like WhiskerDocs and GuardianVets that allow you to talk directly with a veterinary team over web-based chat or the phone. There are companies likeAsk.Vet that offer text message triage through a team of veterinary professionals. And there are companies that are offering platforms for engagement that is initiated and run by in-house veterinarians like PetZam and Televet.
We’re seeing more and more cases of clients looking for someone to help them decide if their situation is an emergency or not. Companies like Petriage use algorithms to determine the extent of concern that an owner should have and then passes that along to a veterinarian. This model is an interesting one insofar as it provides near-immediate advice to the owner. It is also interesting because it is using algorithms to triage the case. Why this particular aspect is interesting is because it’s operating in that gray area of providing actionable advice to clients.
Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship guidelines usually state that you may provide advice of a general nature about a condition, but one cannot provide specific advice about a specific animal without having previously established a VCPR with the animal. Diagnosing and prescribing without a valid VCPR is certainly a no-no. (As a side note, most of the current debate is whether a VCPR can be established using electronic means.) In the situation with Petriage, the company is wading into the murky waters of the general advice of a general nature and perhaps moving towards specific advice of a specific nature.
It was inevitable that we would get here because of the digitization of information and the generation of algorithms that allow us to process that information more quickly, but it seems as though we are moving into this area more quickly than most anticipated.
There’s been discussion within the veterinary profession for a while about the ability to take patient information and amalgamate it into a single dashboard that constantly updates the veterinarian on the patient’s status. Some companies like Sentier are close to this already, but we’re still behind human healthcare. Look at this hospital in Tacoma that is able to utilize a team of over 200 healthcare professionals to treat humans that they never meet. Or this hospital that is remote monitoring paitients through a dashboard. We now have the capability from the wearables, implantables, and other remote diagnostics to make this happen, but we have yet to see a hospital fully adopt these new technologies as part of a complete concierge, care-coordinator approach.
Lessons from Human Healthcare
A recent survey of of 460 Health Systems from across the nation yielded the following results:
- 66% offer secure messaging with clinicians on mobile devices.
- 74% use secure emails for patients and families to keep in touch with the care team, when patients need ongoing monitoring at home.
- 68% simplify prescription renewals by letting patients make requests on mobile devices.
- 62% add data reported by patients to the electronic health record to get a better picture of what is going on with the patient.
- Nearly half of the hospitals are using telehealth — online communications — to provide behavioral health services to more patients.
- 40% offer virtual physician visits.
- >40% provide real-time care management services to patients at home for diabetes and congestive heart failure.
Veterinary Innovation Council Update
We are working on four major areas:
- Running 5 telehealth pilots across the country to generate success models and toolkits
- Helping veterinarians connect with telehealth providers
- Creating an online educational resource for veterinarians
- Creating working groups to address industry-wide issues (e.g. company guidelines)
If our work interests you and/or you would like to get involved, reach out to the VIC team at firstname.lastname@example.org