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InFocus

Telemedicine: a new frontier for veterinary clinics

Telemedicine integration holds the potential to transform veterinary care delivery, but it is important that your clients remain at the apex of all your business decisions

As the use of technology continues to grow at an exponential rate in the United Kingdom, and amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, telehealth adoption is becoming a topic of great interest throughout the care continuum, and veterinary medicine is no different. One recent report published by Grand View Research found that the worldwide veterinary telehealth market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19.5 percent from 2021 to 2028 (Grand View Research, 2021).

Using telehealth in an effective manner can have similar advantages for our four-legged friends as for us humans. This state-of-the-art tech solution can greatly improve animal care by facilitating swift treatments, early diagnostics, anytime communication through text, voice and video, better client education and quick appointment scheduling, among other things.

In this piece, we will be looking at a few benefits of telemedicine in veterinary science and briefly discussing how this solution holds the potential to transform our industry in the near future.

Telemedicine boosts affordable and convenient care in veterinary health

Telemedicine integration can prove to be highly beneficial for veterinary practitioners who struggle to convince owners to get their pets into the clinical setting.

For instance, vets can easily leverage the video calling feature embedded within most telemedicine apps to carry out virtual consultations. This makes it less troublesome for pet parents to gain access to care, and they can do that right from the comfort of their own homes.

This is also one of the reasons pet parents are increasingly accepting telemedicine as an effective care delivery model due to the quality of care furnished, the increased convenience and the affordability it provides.

One recent study conducted by the University of Tennessee investigated both consumer and veterinarian perception and intention related to telehealth usage. It found that participants had a significantly positive attitude towards veterinary telemedicine technology (Hawk, 2018), further strengthening the assumption that telemedicine can easily offer veterinary care providers a way to gain control over the majority of visible issues when it comes to animal care.

One best practice for any veterinary clinic planning on adopting telemedicine within their care delivery module would be to get the platform designed bearing the end users (ie the pet parents in this case) and their convenience in mind.

Examples of important user-side features include an embedded “search” feature for increased convenience, short and precise forms to collect patient information, an automated appointment scheduling feature, two-factor authentication for greater cyber-protection, push notifications and built-in payment options (Kamani, 2020). Once these must-have features have been integrated, you can think of adding more advanced features.

Telemedicine helps veterinarians provide greater wellness advice

In most cases, pet parents seek help from the internet looking for an answer to questions about their pets’ symptoms or health conditions. Although the internet can be a readily available source of information, a lot of the time this practice also leads to sources with inaccurate details and other conflicting results that vets would not necessarily recommend. Telemedicine can be the go-to solution in overcoming this problem.

Virtual consultations, whether delivered through means of video, messages or even email, can help veterinary care providers present factual advice that they can easily trust, follow and get positive results with.

Also, since telemedicine doesn’t completely function without human touch, unlike a number of other healthtech solutions in the market today, it can easily boost communication between the care seekers and providers, allowing for them to develop stronger relationships over time.

Due to all these reasons and many others, it can be rightly said that when veterinary care providers integrate telemedicine into their practice, they can easily help pet parents receive better and more qualified care and faster assessments, all while their animals experience a greater sense of comfort in their usual habitat.

Telemedicine helps veterinarians provide better post-surgical care

Post-surgical care is one of the most crucial components that goes into deciding how swiftly an animal will recover from the treatment. In order for the veterinary practitioner to be able to provide better care options for such an animal, it is critical that they have a means to monitor the animal during the post-operative stages and provide remote consultations at any given point in time.

With telemedicine technology, this feature can be easily achieved by using something as basic and readily accessible as a mobile/desktop application. For example, by using the image/video sharing feature on a telemedicine app, the vet can observe the patient’s recovery by asking the owner to send pictures of the incision site to pick up on any irregularities early on and keep track of the healing process. If need be, the veterinarian can also share prescriptions through such an app.

In case the healing process appears to be taking longer than usual, the vet can also communicate necessary care measures to the concerned pet parent and the treatment plan can be changed accordingly.

A few telemedicine apps also come with built-in wearable tracking features wherein the data from a wearable on the animal’s body is continually synced on the app’s cloud server. With such apps, veterinarians can easily study the information gathered from the wearable device on the pet’s body to diagnose, track and treat the pet early on if they exhibit any warning signs.

It is fair to say that telemedicine can help veterinary care providers deliver better post-surgical care and enhance outcomes as a whole.

What the future holds…

These are only some of the innumerable ways in which telemedicine integration holds the potential to transform veterinary care delivery.

Consumers always admire forward-thinking leaders. Therefore, adopting this progressive tech innovation will not only make your life as a veterinarian easier, it will also contribute towards increasing your business’s bottom line in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

Having said that, it is also important to remember that no solution can truly ever replace the effort you put towards strengthening your client relationships. Therefore, you should try to look for ways to keep your clients at the apex of all your business decisions.

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