What is Veterinary Telehealth?
Have you considered utilizing telemedicine as part of your pet’s health care? There are many options available to pet parents, and it’s important to understand what services you need - whether you’re looking for general advice or require emergency care. Continue reading to learn about the difference between telemedicine, teletriage, and other important terms you should know before using a virtual care service for your pet.
Veterinary Virtual Care and Telehealth
These terms describe the use of technology (home computers, tablets, smartphones) for interactions between clients/patients and veterinary professionals. The goal is to provide reliable information, patient care, and client education in a remote setting. Virtual care and telehealth are often used interchangeably with the different terms listed below.
In order for a veterinarian to perform telemedicine services, there must be an established veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR). This typically means that the veterinarian has seen the patient in his or her practice within the past 12 months and is familiar with the client and pet’s needs. With an existing VCPR, the veterinarian providing the telemedicine consult is legally allowed to provide you with a diagnosis (when applicable), prescribe medications, and give a prognosis for your pet’s condition.
Your regular veterinarian may be able to provide telemedicine services to conduct a virtual exam of your pet through video, pictures, email, or text messages.
Veterinarians using teletriage services can provide timely assessment and management of pet patients but, without a VCPR, cannot provide a diagnosis, prescribe medications, or give a prognosis for the animal’s condition. The goal of teletriage services is to provide a pet owner with trust-worthy advice and help with the immediate triage of a pet’s injury or illness.
Teletriage is meant to help pet owners make good, safe decisions for their pet’s health. This is especially helpful if you’re unable to make a timely appointment with your regular vet, or if you’re not able to leave your home for any reason. Your teletriage vet will be able to help you determine if your pet needs to be seen at an emergency clinic right away or if you can manage your pet’s condition at home.
Electronic communications between a veterinarian and a non-client (without a VCPR) can still include video calls, pictures, emails, or text messages. The veterinary professional may provide you with additional online resources, general advice, and referral to a nearby animal hospital if necessary.
Teleconsulting is a type of remote veterinary care used by your regular vet to communicate with a specialist in the veterinary field. Examples include consults with veterinary radiologists, pathologists, oncologists, surgeons, and behaviorists. This technology allows general practitioners to gain additional insights and advice on the care of a patient.
Telemonitoring services are often provided by veterinary specialists to monitor a patient remotely. Examples include the use of wearable heart monitors, portable blood sugar monitors, or other devices that allow the veterinarian to monitor a pet’s vital signs or behaviors.
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding veterinary telehealth for your pet or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.