Right now, our country—and the rest of the world—is facing some scary times. As veterinarians, we are expected to serve our community and their pets with continued medical care and advice. The hottest subject in our field is Telemedicine. “What is it?” “How can I start using it?” “How do I let my clients know it’s available?” These are some questions you might be asking right now.
I believe that we need to backtrack and ask ourselves more fundamental questions and conduct our due diligence before implementing telemedicine. For those of you that have been providing virtual care, you are the Rock Stars! For those that haven’t, you need to do your homework first so you too can be successful in the arena of connected care. Below is the process I recommend you follow before plunging into the deep end.
First, read your Practice Act Laws
The first plan of action is to read your Practice Act Laws. Yes, it is a boring read at best, but we have time now with half the country quarantined. You need to remember that our governing body, the one that can take our license, is our State Board. Call your state board to find out if they have ruled on telemedicine and what their recommendations are.
Does your liability insurance cover telemedicine?
What kind of telemedicine do you want to offer?
The third plan of action is to decide what kind of telemedicine you want to implement in your practice and the criteria for the platform you are going to use. There are a number of questions to be answered in order to make this decision, for example:
- Do you want to offer asynchronous texting? Video chat? Both?
- Do you want everything to be on the schedule or do you want the conversations set up in real time as they come in?
- Who is involved and receiving the messages/videos, doctors only or a combination of both staff and doctors?
There are many more questions to ask and answer in this step of the process. Once you have decided on the type of telemedicine you would like to offer to your clients, your next step is to research what technology best meets your needs.
How to choose the right telemedicine platform
Understanding the various platforms and technology options that are out there and deciding which will be the best fit for your business is the final step in the discovery process. Ask yourself “Do I want to save money and do the “tech” stuff myself, understanding that it may not be as secure and will be time-consuming?” OR “Do I want it all done for me by an app company, so that all I have to do is sign up and learn how to use it and market it?” It may be worth the money to pay for a company that has a secure exchange of medical information, liability built in, and consent covered. Dr. Stacee Santi has a great video on the “three big buckets” of telemedicine platforms that are available.
Most importantly, do your research
To sum it all up, DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST! You shouldn’t be jumping into the game with both feet. Make sure the law permits you to use this modality, make a protocol/plan for how you want to offer it to your clients and in what form, and then choose the technology to start your journey. Once you have set yourself up for a smooth, successful, telemedicine experience, you’ll be ready to run with it!
Dr. Crista Wallis graduated from Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. She co-owns and operates Monticello Animal Hospital in Shawnee, KS, specializing in small animal and exotic animal medicine. Crista has a wealth of expertise and experience in the field of veterinary telemedicine and is excited to help Vet2Pet clients on their journey. She believes that if you put your best self out into the universe, a ripple effect of positive energy will touch all those around you!