While telemedicine has been part of human medicine for many years—before cellphones—it has only recently begun to make waves in veterinary medicine. As a dedicated pet owner, you don’t want to wait until the next available appointment to see if your pet needs in-hospital veterinary care. Now that we offer telemedicine at Lebanon Animal Hospital, you no longer have to wait for an appointment for answers about your pet’s health.
What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a subcategory of telehealth, which is the overarching term that encompasses all uses of technology to remotely deliver health information, education, or care. Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients using telecommunications, such as through a video call or app, to exchange information electronically to improve a patient’s health. When we use telemedicine, we can enhance your pet’s care by facilitating communication, diagnostics, treatments, education, and scheduling, and we can become more efficient, care for more pets, and save you time and money.
While veterinary practices have for years enjoyed teleconsulting, such as a consultation with a board-certified radiologist, we are excited to welcome telemedicine and its benefits into our practice, and to offer these additional services to you and your pet.
What are the benefits of telemedicine for my pet?
Rather than calling our animal hospital phone line, you can contact us through our telemedicine app, Medici, which offers an encrypted platform for discussing your pet’s condition, as long as we have a valid veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (i.e., we must have seen your pet in person before we can legally make a diagnosis and discuss her treatment). Once we’ve established a relationship, you’ll have access to veterinary care at the touch of a button.
Since pets can’t tell us what ails them, determining the issue affecting your pet can be a challenge for pet owners, and veterinarians. Although we can’t put our hands on your pet to get vital statistics, such as heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, gum color, and pain response, we can see exactly what you are concerned about through a video call or texted picture. Many pet owners call us for advice regarding their pet’s bump, cut, or rash, and giving accurate instructions without a visual aid is difficult.
We can also assess your pet in her natural state at home. All too often, a pet’s clinical or vital signs become inaccurate in the veterinary hospital due to stress, anxiety, or excitement. To make accurate information gathering more simple, you can use a fitness-tracking monitor to gather data about your pet’s heart and respiratory rate, activity level, and sleep efficiency. A nervous pet’s heart rate often skyrockets as soon as she sees the hospital parking lot, and this skewed vital statistic makes diagnosis difficult. But, with the aid of telemedicine and fitness monitors for pets, we can gather accurate information.
How can telemedicine be used to help my pet?
Telemedicine can help provide pets with veterinary care in many new ways. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s worth almost as much as a veterinary visit in the following cases:
- Skin issues
- Coughing and sneezing
- Behavior questions
- Scratches or wounds
- General wellness care
- Progress exams
- Chronic conditions
- Specialist referrals
- After-hours care
- Post-surgical care
- Hospice care
- Providing easy access to veterinary care for remote pet owners
In most instances, telemedicine becomes an option only after a firm diagnosis has been made, allowing us to assess your pet’s treatment response. For many pets with serious issues, we will need to run blood work, take X-rays, or perform an ultrasound to give us enough information to make an accurate diagnosis. After this point, you can use our app for progress checks, questions about your pet’s medication response, or other issues related to your pet’s condition.
For other cases, we can use telemedicine to assess your pet’s problem and let you know if you need to be concerned, such as when bumps, rashes, or sores appear. Telemedicine is also wonderful for parasite identification—we receive quite a few calls asking about worms a new puppy has in her stool, and small black dots that could be a tick or a skin tag. No matter the question about your pet’s care, telemedicine can help us find the answer.
We hope you are as excited as we are about the benefits telemedicine offers you and your pet. Give us a call to learn more about setting up the Medici app.