I Have the Technology, Now How Do I Use It? Implementing Telemedicine in Your Practice

veterinarian looking at iPad for telemedicine

By Crista Wallis, DVM

When COVID-19 hit, it changed the way our veterinary teams practice medicine, treat patients, and communicate with clients, with the later a particular challenge during these times of isolation. However, communicating and developing relationships with clients is essential, even during a pandemic. COVID-19 quickly exposed the many drawbacks of not being able to talk with clients face-to-face. Then, telemedicine, virtual care, and curbside care exploded onto the veterinary scene, and many practices jumped to acquire the newest technology that would solve all their problems in the new, socially distanced world.

So, now you have the technology, but what will you do with it? Follow these four steps to become a telemedicine rockstar:

Step 1: Understand the problems you are trying to solve with technology

Take the time to decide why your veterinary practice needs new technology. What are your practice’s problem areas? Does the solution incorporate a communication or telemedicine platform, or both? For example, if your team is bogged down collecting payments during curbside care, you may be looking for a Virtual Payment feature. Or, you’d like to let your clients know their pet is ready for discharge with a quick chat rather than a phone call. You may be interested in sharing video demonstrations on how to give insulin injections to a newly diagnosed diabetic cat. All these problems can be solved through a comprehensive virtual care platform that focuses on client engagement, such as the Vet2Pet app. While a telemedicine platform, like Medici or Anipanion, allows you to focus solely on patient care while your client and furry patient are comfortably ensconced on their couch, an all-in-one virtual care platform provides a slew of additional features versus the typical telemedicine services offered by telemedicine-specific platforms. 

Other problems you can solve with a virtual care platform may include:

  • Improving work/life balance
  • Improving client experience
  • Fewer phone calls for the team
  • Increasing in-house efficiency
  • Improving pet-care education
  • Increasing the practice’s bottom line
  • Triaging patient problems

Once you’ve identified the problems you’d like technology to solve, you are better equipped to choose a platform that best suits your needs. Make a list of your must-haves, and another of features you’d like to have, but do not necessarily need. Find three technology companies that offer what you need, take the platforms for a demo, work through the pros and cons of each, and then choose the company that offers the best fit for your practice. Keep in mind that you may need to enlist the aid of more than one platform to fulfill all your needs. While a telemedicine platform provides a host of services related specifically to telemedicine (e.g., messages, calls, and videos), a comprehensive virtual care platform offers general telemedicine services and a robust mix of other features (e.g., appointment scheduling, pharmacy requests, and loyalty programs) designed to make patient care easier for you and your clients.

Step 2: Break down information overload

Avoid the all-too-real phenomenon of information overload, in which you become paralyzed with indecision when overwhelmed by too much information. Step back from signing up for one more webinar or listening to another podcast before you take the leap. Identify your practice problems, choose your technology platform, and then focus only on setting up and running your virtual care and/or telemedicine platform successfully. Devise a checklist to help set up your platform, ensuring that you get your team’s input on how they envision telemedicine benefitting the practice, patients, and clients (e.g., increased efficiency, an improved payment collection system).

Step 3: Understand how to use your platform

Make a concerted effort to learn the ins and outs of how your platform works, ensuring that everyone on your team feels comfortable using the new technology. Team meetings are a great way to ease fears, answer questions, assign responsibilities, outline each team member’s role, and build protocols. At this point, you will also want to prepare triage templates, phone scripts, and marketing and client education material, practicing the new protocols with your team before going live with your clients. Also, ensure your practice can support the new technology by checking internet connection and speed, and adding laptops or tablets, if needed.

Step 4: Devise a plan to implement your chosen platform

This final step can be daunting and overwhelming. Jump in with enthusiasm, and use some established protocols and flows to make the transition easier. For example, may you have already replaced using the phone with new tools (e.g., Asynchronous Video, 2-Way Chat, Virtual Payment). 

For the best success, minimize change and incorporate the technology into your existing protocols. For example, perhaps your small hospital has an organic flow, so one veterinarian should monitor and respond to the consults throughout the day, while larger practices can appoint a virtual care coordinator to schedule and assign all consults. 

Before going live with your telemedicine or virtual care platform—or both—ensure your team has a triage flowchart to help determine which patients can be seen through the platform, and those who need to come into the hospital. Design marketing material and organize a campaign to let your clients know about your virtual care option. Then, ensure your team practices and feels comfortable with the new flow or systems—you must give your platform all your attention and focus to ensure its success.

Remember, veterinary professionals have been performing telemedicine and teletriage for years, but now you have a handy platform that will make these tasks easier. Set yourself and your team up for success by working through these four steps, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t investigate a virtual care solution sooner. 

Need help learning the ins and outs of your custom Vet2Pet app? Get the most out of your all-in-one client engagement platform by contacting Vet2Pet’s dedicated support team at info@vet2pet.com—they will guide you through implementing your virtual care platform to best benefit your practice. 

Don’t have a virtual care platform yet? Learn more about how Vet2Pet’s all-in-one solution can help solve your technology pain points. Schedule a 30-minute demo today.

Dr. Crista Wallis

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!

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