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The Rise of Telehealth in the Veterinary Medicine Industry

The Rise of Telehealth in the Veterinary Medicine Industry

The way in which owners seek medical advice and treatment for their pets is changing. Rather than driving their pets to a local veterinary practice, many owners are now scheduling phone calls to talk to a veterinary professional. Known as telehealth, it’s become increasingly popular. For a better understanding of telehealth in the veterinary medicine, keep reading.

What Is Telehealth?

Telehealth involves the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions — as well as the overall delivery of health-related information — remotely. It’s typically performed over the phone. In the veterinary medicine industry, owners can talk to licensed veterinarians and other veterinary professionals over the phone. It’s a faster and more convenient way to seek medical care. As you may have guessed, though, telehealth has its advantages and disadvantages.

While the term “telehealth” encompasses all uses of remote technology for healthcare purposes, it can be further broken down into specific segments. Below are several segments of telehealth:

  • Telemedicine: involves the use of a tool or tools to relay medical information remotely.
  • Teleconsulting: involves phone calls, emails, video conference software or other channels to perform a medical consultation.
  • Teletriage: involves the assessment of a patient remotely.
  • Telemonitoring: involves the use of video cameras, webcams or medical devices to monitor a patient remotely.

Advantages of Telehealth in the Veterinary Medicine Industry

Convenience is one of the biggest telehealth in the veterinary medicine industry. Most owners will agree that it’s more convenient to seek medical advice and treatment for their pets by calling a licensed veterinarian. They don’t have to pack up their pet and drive them to a local veterinary practice. Rather, owners just need to schedule a telehealth call.

When compared to in-practice visits, appointment cancellations are less common with telehealth calls. Fewer pet owners will cancel their appointment. Owners must still book an appointment to talk to a veterinarian over the phone, but they won’t have to drive to the veterinarian’s place of business. As a result, most owners will follow through with their appointment.

Telehealth eliminates veterinary-related stress in pets. Many pets — especially dogs and cats — experience stress when visiting veterinary practices. One study found that up to 78% of all dogs become either stressed or fearful at veterinary practices. With telehealth, owners don’t have to take their pets to a local veterinary practice. They seek medical advice and treatment from the comfort of their home.

For veterinarians, telehealth can streamline their operations. It allows them to provide services to more pet owners. In-person appointments, of course, can be time-consuming. Owners must book an appointment, followed by visiting the practice, waiting in the lobby for a given period, and then going to the back where they see the veterinarian. Telehealth appointments are simpler. The veterinarian will typically call the owner at the scheduled time. The telehealth call will then begin.

Disadvantages of Telehealth in the Veterinary Medicine Industry

There are disadvantages of telehealth in the veterinary medicine industry as well. Owners, for instance, must typically schedule an in-person visit before they can schedule a telehealth call. Laws regarding telehealth are constantly changing. Currently, however, all states require in-person examination beforehand. A licensed veterinarian must examine the owner’s pet in person before the owner can schedule a telehealth call. Of course, in-person examinations are typically fast and inexpensive. Nonetheless, many owners are surprised to discover that their state requires them for telehealth calls in the veterinary medicine industry.

Telehealth has its limitations. Even after an in-person examination, there’s only so much a veterinarian can do over the phone. They can’t perform X-rays, for example, nor can they collect blood or tissue samples. Tasks such as these require an in-person appointment. Owners may have to schedule an in-person appointment in conjunction with using telehealth.

While it’s on the rise, telehealth isn’t offered by all veterinary practices. Most veterinary practices only offer in-person appointments and services. Owners can’t schedule telehealth calls. For owners, this means they may have trouble finding a veterinary practice that offers telehealth calls. For veterinary practices, on the other hand, it can help them stand out. Veterinary practices can one-up their competitors by offering telehealth calls to their clients.

There are technology requirements for certain telehealth services. Some telehealth services are performed over the phone, but others are performed over the internet via a webcam. Veterinarians and pet owners will need the right equipment. Otherwise, they won’t be able to facilitate these services.

What’s Next for Telehealth?

It’s safe to assume that telehealth is here to stay. It was originally used by doctors to provide medical advice to their patients. In recent years, though, telehealth has made its way into the veterinary medicine industry. There are countless licensed veterinarians who offer telehealth at their respective practices. As more and more patients acknowledge its benefits, telehealth will only become more popular in the veterinary medicine industry.

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