Our first project focuses on providing telehealth resources for veterinarians who are interested in incorporating telehealth tools into their practices.
Have questions about Telemedicine?
One of VIC’s starting points was to create clarity for the Veterinary Client Patient Relationship. Here’s the basic test:
Have you physically examined the animal within the past year (or so)?
If yes, then you can use whatever telehealth tool you would like to diagnose, prescribe, and treat that animal.
If no, then you cannot diagnose or prescribe medication for the animal.
If you follow that test, then you shouldn’t have any problems, from a legislative point of view.
Some things to keep in mind
- You should never be forced to use telemedicine, especially if you do not feel you have adequate information to provide a diagnosis or treatment plan
- Our preliminary work has shown that telemedicine:
- Increases the number of clients with access to healthcare
- Provides faster access to care for animals in need
- Helps clients understand and engage with their animal’s healthcare
- Accesses a market that is currently underserved
We worked with one clinic who was spending hours everyday on call-backs for routine things like negative fecal results. We encouraged them to use text messaging to communicate appointment reminders, negative fecal results, and medication availability to a select group of clients. The clients loved it! As well, the receptionists saved hours each day so they were able to focus on providing a better client experience overall.
We worked with another clinic who was interested in providing live video services to their clients for wellness exams. The clinic team saw this as an extra level of value for their clients and an extra touchpoint for developing their relationships with clients. The clients appreciated the ability to connect with their veterinarians between regularly scheduled appointments and enjoyed the live answers to their questions from the comfort of their own home.
A group of clinics decided to offer a basic triage service through a third party’s text message platform. This platform allows clients to text their questions from their phone to a team of veterinary professionals. Here are the results:
- 590 appointments conducted
- 80% were resolved through advice provided via text (not urgent or needing referral)
- 20% required an in-person visit
- 5 star reviews received from 94% of users
- 62% of users had no regular veterinarian
- Top 5 issues/concerns:
- Vomiting 29%
- Urinary 18%
- Skin issue 10%
- Flea/Tick 9%
- Lethargy 9%
In sum, clients were happy with the service, most of those clients are from an underserved market, and most of the issues were resolved through the text messaging platform.