For some time now, Friendship has been evaluating telemedicine as another layer of providing care to our patients. There are benefits and limitations to any new procedure and the launch of this service will be exciting and challenging. Technology is expanding in ways that allow us to better visualize and assess patients remotely, in real-time. Telemedicine also allows our clients to get their information from a trusted resource, the Primary Care Service at Friendship. We look forward to taking this step with you.
The use of telemedicine in veterinary medicine is commonplace. We just don’t think of it as telemedicine. Examples of telemedicine include consultation with a specialist, calls about a toxin case, reviewing photos and videos from clients, and giving advice over the phone.
Telemedicine is broadly defined as the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients using telecommunication. The AVMA defines telemedicine as an electronic communication between veterinarian and client with an established VCPR (veterinary-client-patient relationship) involving the delivery of information specific to a particular patient. State laws and regulations must be followed in the state in which a veterinarian is licensed and in which the patient resides. Under this umbrella term, other subsets include telemonitoring, telecommunication, teleconsulting, teletriage, teleadvice, and electronic prescription.
A VCPR is present when a veterinarian knows enough about an animal to establish a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Determining what’s wrong with an animal is like solving a complex puzzle – the veterinarian has to piece together the clinical signs, exam findings, and diagnostic results. A VCPR that includes an up-to-date physical examination is important for a veterinarian to provide a patient the best care, and it’s required by law in most states.
In the human medical profession, the practice of telemedicine has more widespread acceptance as practitioners aren’t faced with the same dilemma’s as veterinarians. Human patients can provide a verbal, first-person account of their history and symptoms. They can pinpoint pain, describe sensations, answer questions and follow instructions. Our patients cannot, and an owner describing their pet’s symptoms may not always be on target. It’s important to keep this in mind with regard to the limitations we face in telemedicine.
In order for a telemedicine consultation to be performed, the patient must have had a physical examination by a Friendship veterinarian in the last year.
Telemedicine consultations are not appropriate for every presentation as no physical examination or diagnostics can be performed to aid in recommendations. Delays in treatment could result for certain urgent presentations. As such, the telemedicine provider may recommend the pet be seen at Friendship on an appointment or urgent care basis. Telemedicine is not appropriate for problems such as difficulty breathing, severe lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, seizures, difficulty urinating, and straining to defecate.
Examples of telemedicine consults:
- General medical concerns
- Questions regarding medications
- Nutrition consultations
- Long term monitoring
- Quality-of-life discussions
- Sneezing/reverse sneezing
- Suspected kennel cough (if your pet has been boarded in the last 7 days)
- Diarrhea without lethargy, vomiting, or loss of appetite
- Travel related questions
- Home glucose curve and other diagnostic interpretation
- Visible parasites on pets; i.e. fleas and ticks
- Parasites seen in the stool
- Weight management
How to schedule:
- Email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Check your email for an auto-response with directions.
- After completing the directions, allow up to 24-hours to receive an email confirmation with your scheduled date/time.
- Make sure your pet is with you at the time of your scheduled consultation. Our doctor will initiate the consultation.
Consults are conducted via the TeleTails app on your smartphone or tablet. If you do not already have the app installed on your device, you will receive instructions of how to do so when your appointment is confirmed.
The fee for a telemedicine consultation is $89.00. This does not include any medications that may be prescribed for the patient.
AAHA Real Life Rewards of Virtual Care
Telehealth Tips and Guiding Principles VIC/NAVC
Telehealth and Telemedicine in Veterinary Practice AVMA
VCPR State Laws 2019 AVMA
AAVSB Guidelines for Telehealth
An Overview of Telemedicine WSVMA