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AVMA: Use Telemedicine to Help Care for Veterinary Patients

AVMA: Use Telemedicine to Help Care for Veterinary Patients
Telemedicine can help you protect and monitor the health of veterinary patients during the COCID-19 crisis. Photo: Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz/shutterstock.com

With COVID-19 confirmed in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., use of telemedicine and telehealth has become a viable way to address the concerns of clients and to monitor the health of veterinary patients, says the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Certain requirements are in place for the use of telemedicine, such as an already established veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) and an appropriate patient presentation. AVMA has resources to support your use of telemedicine.

The AVMA’s latest guidelines for veterinarians — “What Veterinarians Need to Know” — can help guide practices in implementing telemedicine.

In a letter to the AVMA’s membership, President John Howe, wrote about telemedicine as an option (the letter is excerpted here; read the complete letter here):

“We understand this is an incredibly challenging time for all. We want you, our members, to know that the AVMA is working day and night to advocate for you; to provide useful guidance to help you, your clients, and your practice through this crisis; and to disseminate credible information for all concerned. We are working with federal agencies, including the CDC and FDA; gathering expertise from veterinarians and others working in public health and disaster response; collaborating with state veterinary medical and species-specific organizations, the AAVMC, veterinary schools, and the AAVSB; and other colleagues across the healthcare system to develop the best possible guidance and keep you as updated as possible. Information is being updated constantly on our dedicated COVID-19 webpage.

“Telemedicine can be an important tool to protect and monitor patients while preventing spread of COVID-19. With an already established veterinarian-client-patient relationship, telemedicine allows us to appropriately triage patients to ensure that only those really needing to be seen make the trip to the clinic with their owners. AVMA has resources to support your use of telemedicine at avma.org/Telemedicine.

“More information on all of these topics is available on our COVID-19 webpage, which includes FAQs to support you, your team members, and your clients. We are all in this together, and we salute the amazing profession-wide commitment and outpouring of effort in this very difficult time.”

In the article “Telehealth — What’s Next,” Today’s Veterinary Practice takes a look at telehealth and the challenges veterinarians need to overcome in order to reap its benefits.

Mark Cushing, of the Animal Policy Group, in a “A Regulatory Road Map for Telehealth & Pet Health Care,” says that telemedicine “is real-time electronic encounters among veterinarians, pet owners, and pets, during which the parties see and talk to each other. Add to this the electronic communication tools of email, texts, and the like, and suddenly pet health care begins to mirror 21st century human health care.”