Telemedicine is a way to have a virtual appointment with a veterinarian. This has been around for several decades in human medicine but is newer to veterinary medicine. It is a way for pet owners to talk about their dog or cat’s problem in the convenience and safety of their own homes during this COVID-19 crisis.
What is telemedicine or telehealth? Here is the definition from Wikipedia: Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions.
In human medicine, virtual doctors’ visits are becoming the norm for some situations. Telemedicine doesn’t work for every problem but can work for many.
This is how a telemedicine appointment works at Granville Veterinary Clinic:
- Call the clinic – Call our clinic as usual (740-587-1129) and tell us the problem your pet is having or your present concern. Tell our receptionist if you are interested in a virtual visit. They can help guide you based on your pet symptoms to determine if it can work for your situation. See list below of problems that can work for telemedicine. It can work well for urgent and important but not life-threatening problems.
- Schedule an online visit – The front desk will schedule a time with you and walk you through the process. Fees will be approximately the same as we do for an office call. Skype, Facetime, and Zoom have all worked well for us.
- Get ready – It is necessary for you to have video with a reliable internet connection, 10-20 minutes of time, a quiet place, a microphone on your computer or device, and ideally have your pet available (cats under the bed don’t count 😊)
- Talk to the doctor – The doctor will ask you questions just like at a normal appointment. They may ask you to help direct an exam and point the camera toward your pet to look at gum color, breathing pattens, or a problem such as a skin irritation. After getting a history and an understanding of the problem, the doctor will discuss possible causes and treatment options. There will be no prescribed injections or any drive throughs for injectables. If an injection is necessary, we will have to set an appointment time. If appropriate, doctor will prescribe medications through our clinic. The doctor will complete a medical record that will go in your chart just as they do now.
- Pick up medications – The doctor will let our team know if there are any medications that need filled. You will coordinate payment with our front desk and let us know when you are in the parking lot. We will let you know when the lobby is free for you to come in and pick up the prescription or we will bring it out to your car.
- Discharge instructions –At the conclusion of the call, the doctor will email you discharge instructions. If you have any questions or problems, you can call our clinic as usual. 740-587-1129.
Here is a list of problems that can work for a virtual veterinary visit:
- Back pain
- Behavioral problems
- Bladder infections
- Diet consultations
- Ear infections
- Flea and tick infestations
- Hospice care
- Insect bites
- Minor cough
- Obesity management
- Post-surgical care
- Skin inflammation or infections
- Sprains and soft tissue injuries
- Upper respiratory infections
- Wellness recommendations