On March 24, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended temporarily the enforcement of certain regulations governing veterinarian-client-patient relationships (VCPRs), a move that helps veterinarians examine and treat animals using telemedicine, while limiting human interaction and the potential spread of COVID-19. This is welcome news if you’re considering telemedicine for your practice, but you also need to review the specific VCPR requirements that may exist in your state; as well as telemedicine licensing considerations if you’re treating patients across state lines.
After you’ve done that, there are a number of technology options available, including TeleVet, Medici, GuardianVets, AirVet, and BabelBark. Here are a few common features, and the potential benefits they provide:
Remote exams and evaluations
Telemedicine platforms make it easier to offer certain services remotely, such as medical progress exams and follow-up evaluations of existing conditions. For instance, a vet could remotely offer post-operative surgical consults; and evaluations of skin disorders, wound healing, ear infections or bladder infections.
File and screen sharing
The telemedicine platforms offered by these companies include features that have been widely adopted during COVID-19, including image and video sharing, and document transfers. In addition, some allow vets to share lab results or x-rays with a voice recording that explains the results to the animal’s owner. Many of these platforms also help veterinary practices store and maintain medical records, including pictures, data, client/provider communications, and recorded consultations.
Remote monitoring of patients
Some platforms also include around the clock ability to monitor a patient’s well-being. For example, telemedicine platforms have been used to supplement and support veterinary staff by providing a hotline that can triage patients’ medical needs remotely. Further, to ensure continuity of care, some platforms can send veterinary practices the details of the call and outcomes, which can be helpful with after-hours cases and overflow.
Patient monitoring applications
Another benefit of some platforms is a patient monitoring application, which enables the service provider and the client to share health metrics such as weight, diet, nutrition, medication compliance, activity or exercise. This feature expands the data in a veterinary practice’s medical records because clients can make contemporaneous updates, such as a recording of a pet’s food, or notes about prescriptions purchased elsewhere, all of which can help if correlated health issues arise later.