Telehealth is a rapidly growing field of healthcare. With the introduction of hand-held digital devices and access to communication software such as FaceTime and Skype, doctors can tend to you at home without even knocking on your door. The house-call — almost an oxymoron in modern times — is reentering our zeitgeist in the digital age. And we’re not just talking about doctors attending to human patients. Our animals and pets can also be treated virtually by veterinarians in the 21st Century.
Telemedicine refers to healthcare, which is conducted remotely. In the context of veterinary medicine, it means that owners do not need to physically bring their animals into the office every time they might need to see the vet.
However, it’s important to understand, there aree some limitations as to what kind of medical treatment can be conducted by FaceTime, Skype or any other real-time video communication software. For instance, x-rays and medications need a face-to-face visit, in addition to surgeries. However, telemedicine is a great first-step in determining at the onset, if a face-to-face even needs to be considered.
Exploring New Frontiers
Applying today’s technology to age-old challenges in practicing veterinary medicine is opening up our modern-day veterinarians to unlimited possibilities.
Arn Anderson, DVM, of the Cross Timbers Veterinary Hospital in Bowie, Texas services bovine, equine and small animal clients. His practice, the Cross Timbers is quickly becoming a model for tackling both the opportunities and challenges of incorporating telemedicine into a rural, veterinary practice.
“Everyone uses a smartphone or an iPad,” he says. “We combine these with FaceTime and Skype and can share information between clients and the clinic or between DVMs [ Doctors of Veterinary Medicine.] It allows us to make a decision and get treatment started before we make it out to the ranch.”
Mentoring Veterinarians Students
“Between DVMs, this technology allows us to mentor younger veterinarians in rural environments and allows us to share cases and get second opinions easier and faster. It is better medicine,” Dr. Anderson affirms.
“We have used FaceTime in surgeries at our outlying clinic (about an hour and a half away) where we placed a young associate. All you need is a technician to hold the iPad so we can see what’s going on, if they run into difficulty or just want one of us to provide feedback. The cool thing about FaceTime is it is live."
Should you want a vet to visit you versus the other way around, you might want to consider a mobile veterinarian service.
Vetpronto is a service that enlists mobile veterinarians. They promote the “highest standard of care” with vets who undergo a rigorous screening process to ensure only the most qualified join their team.
In conjunction with online visits, veterinarians thoroughly assess the previous medical records of each pet or animal. This insures these medical professionals have a complete picture of the patient’s physical history. With several dozen vets located in San Francisco, New York, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago and San Jose, pet and animal owners can also select a vet close to home, should they want to schedule face-to-face appointments after the mobile visit.
Important to note these new methods and technologies do not replace hands-on examinations. Nonetheless, it does allow animal owners to kick-start the process and alleviate some of the initial stress associated with first-time visits to a clinic. No doubt, as time goes on, there will be legal issues associated with these type of treatments. But with caution and prudence, the possibilities for enhanced care is worth the effort in treading these new unchartered waters.
Primary Source: New Frontiers with Veterinarian Telemedicine