As we all know, Covid-19 has brought on a whole new way of looking at things. The veterinary industry has gone through a very rough few years. Some of it due to veterinarian and support staff shortages, the influx of puppies and pets in the home, the increase of demand and supply shortages and of course Covid which caused the industry to be considered essential while quickly revamping the way we have been doing things for years. This caused the industry to come together and figure things out very quickly or your business will deteriorate at a rapid rate.
Curbside became a common word in the veterinary industry overnight. We took our business curbside to be able to continue seeing patients. This meant that our clients had to stay in their car while we brought their pet into the building and completed their exam, vaccines, lab work and other things while the client sat in their car and waited for us to bring their pet back to them. In some cases this was just fine and in other cases it wasn’t because the pet was not happy to be there without the owner with them. We had to quickly learn how to effectively communicate with clients quickly and thoroughly while still maintaining a doctor/client relationship. How can we do that effectively and safely all while keeping our clients happy and our team safe.
This scenario opened our eyes to technology and telemedicine. This has been a hot topic in human medicine for years and the pandemic definitely brought it over to veterinary medicine and many veterinary hospitals saw the value in it rather quickly. The new technology allowed veterinarians to communicate to clients through text, which many people prefer. It also gave us the option to call the client or to even video call the client so they could be “in the room” while their pet was getting their exam, vaccines, etc.
This still allowed veterinarians to talk to the client while examining their pet just as they would have when clients were in the exam rooms prior to covid. This new platform allowed clients to send us pictures of their pet if there was an area of concern. Or they could even send us a video if their pet was limping. Clients could even sign paperwork and consent forms electronically prior to their visit to save time and stay safe. This new platform has opened up a whole new way of practicing veterinary medicine in a way that is productive, safe and can be easier on the team, client and pet.
Telemedicine can also be an advantage for some of our patients. We see many patients that exhibit anxiety or fear at the veterinary hospital so much that they need medication to help and sometimes that isn’t even enough for us to complete what needs to be done with the patient. These clients can use telemedicine and call in to see the doctor while their pet is happy at home. This decreases fear and anxiety for the pet and anxiety for the owner at the same time. It’s a win-win. We can also utilize telemedicine for a patient that just had an orthopedic surgery. The client may be afraid to get their pet in the car just after surgery so it would be so much easier for the client to call in and the doctor see the patient that way.
Overall, technology has helped make things easier for our clients and I see it only continuing to become the way we work. Telemedicine is also great for many instances but it’s important to remember not all instances. It’s very important to know when telemedicine will work and when it won’t. We obviously can’t take blood or an x-ray over a video call or run a urine sample. If your pet requires a diagnosis, an exam or needs treatment then your pet will need to be seen at the hospital.
Bottom line is technology and telemedicine are both very good options and new to the veterinary industry and will continue to grow but will never replace bringing your pet into the veterinary hospital, being present, talking with the doctor and having that face to face communication.