COVID-19 : Veterinary Telemedicine to the rescue

In today’s COVID-19 environment, telemedicine platforms provide effective alternatives to in-person consultations while helping keep the veterinary team, client and patient safe. Some tools use sophisticated, machine-learning artificial intelligence to assess symptoms and present an automated triage recommendation. Clients can request interaction with the veterinarian during telemedicine hours or regular office hours.

In real time, telemedicine tools enable clients to upload photos and video via instant messaging. This keeps the veterinarian in the loop, ensuring continuous care and avoiding unnecessary ER visits, strengthening the client relationship, and driving business back to the brick-and-mortar hospital. A well-designed telemedicine platform can streamline practice workflow by sending medical information directly to an office management system.

Obviously, telemedicine’s advantage in today’s COVID-19 world is that it’s available remotely and can help the veterinarian continue to provide pet care without an office visit and at the same time triage patients that must come in.

What’s notable from my practice’s data is that only about 5% of teletriage cases are genuine emergencies. The rest can be handled during business hours and don’t require a visit to an emergency clinic. Even during office hours, the teletriage tool helps to prescreen cases and control workflow in busy practices. For this reason, well before the appearance of the novel coronavirus in the United States, all my active patients were enrolled on the telehealth platform.

Many observers have said telemedicine will become standard in the veterinary industry. The coronavirus crisis is the proverbial wakeup call.

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