Years ago, there were no veterinary-based telemedicine companies on the market. Telemedicine booths did not exist in conference exhibit halls, telemedicine articles were not in publications, and virtual care webinars were not available for easy viewing. And, many veterinarians were OK with that. But, with the advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine has exploded on the veterinary scene.
Many veterinary practitioners are hoping this is a passing phase…that it’ll go away when COVID no longer consumes our lives. But telemedicine isn’t simply going to go away. Demand from pet owners for virtual care services is increasing, and now is a great time to figure out how you can navigate this new way of practicing medicine, and provide the service your clients want, and the care your patients need.
But where do you start? With so many options, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed. I’ve been offering virtual care in my practice for more than 5 years, and I’ve tried many of the platforms that are likely flooding your inbox and social media feeds now. Let’s stop all the marketing talk, and focus on the five must-haves I believe you need to successfully and efficiently offer curbside and virtual care.
#1: You must have a willing, keen participant
While the actual technology is obviously important, your virtual care offerings will lie stagnant without an engaged team. Choose a platform that is backed by exceptional customer service—a team that will help to train and excite your staff. Then, appoint a virtual care leader—ideally, someone who is excited about all the features that your platform offers. Once your team leader has learned to use your virtual care platform, they will jump-start your team’s engagement by eagerly sharing the features, and spearhead the necessary team training. They will demonstrate how easy the app is to use, and implement the options that will make triaging and client communication more efficient. Soon, your entire team will be on-board.
#2: You must have a safe and secure platform
Security is a critical feature of any virtual care platform, so you must research the platform and understand how medical information is stored and retrieved. Ask about the security measures that will protect your clients’ and your practice’s data, and whether the platform has data sharing with practice management software, and medical exchange waivers when clients sign up. Choose a platform that doesn’t collect, share, or track your clients’ data. A successful virtual care platform will have a secure technology program that protects you and your clients. Also, research your state’s laws and liability about virtual care before choosing a platform.
#3: You must have a flexible platform
A flexible platform allows you to develop virtual care services to fit your practice’s specific needs. A platform that offers customizable features that can be branded to your practice, along with the ability to exchange texts, pictures, and videos, and conduct live video consults, will be the most useful. In addition, you want a platform that is easily accessible via desktop and smartphones. The more options you have, the more successful you will be at implementing the platform for your specific needs.
#4: You must have a virtual payment option
What good is a virtual care platform that cannot collect payments? Virtual payment is a must for charging and collecting payment for consult services. If you do not charge for your time and expert advice at the time of service, the charges often become lost in the shuffle, or when they are transferred to your practice management software. Virtual payment is a convenient, secure way to charge clients for your virtual consultations, and allow clients to prepay for medication and prescription food refills, making successful curbside and virtual care easy.
#5: You must have a secure documentation feature
A successful virtual care platform needs a secure, easy method for retrieving all consult documentation, whether via text or video. Flexibility in how the platform documents the consult will also make implementation easier. You can print the consultation notes and file them in your paper records or, if your practice is paperless, you can download a PDF file into your practice management system. Consultations that remain within the platform and are easily accessed through a cloud-based system can be conveniently retrieved, and paired with your medical records stored in your practice management software.
Look, I get it. Starting a virtual care service is scary. But, I think more practices will find in the coming months that it’s necessary. While it may seem complex and confusing at first, breaking down the must-have components and finding the right platform for your practice will simplify the process. Once you have all the pieces that fit the puzzle, a successful virtual care offering will flourish.
Are you still learning the ins and outs of your Vet2Pet app’s latest features? For additional guidance, contact Vet2Pet’s support team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in learning how virtual care can boost your business, increase efficiency, and make your clients happier with your practice? Schedule a 30-minute demo covering Vet2Pet’s customizable, all-in-one client engagement platform today.
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!