With more sophisticated technology available, higher client demand, and a global health crisis persisting, there’s never been a better time to embrace telemedicine in the veterinary profession. That’s why the Veterinary Virtual Care Association (VVCA) formed, and the new nonprofit group aims to develop and disseminate best practices with the first Veterinary Virtual Care Summit.
This free virtual event is scheduled to launch August 18 and offer up to 5.5 hours of CE content. Outside of the education content, the single-day summit will also include opportunities for networking and experiential growth.
Topics to be addressed include regulations (including VCPR), the economics of virtual care, staff workflows, customer experience, and more. To register for the event, visit virtualcaresummit.vet.
In anticipation of this event, Today’s Veterinary Practice spoke with Alison McIntyre, executive director of the VVCA.
Q: What is the mission behind creating the VVCA and holding events like the upcoming Summit?
A: VVCA’s commitment is to ensure that virtual care becomes part of the standard of care in veterinary medicine by advocating best practices, providing educational resources developed by thought leaders, and creating a space for a wide alliance of professionals to congregate and accelerate the adoption of telehealth. This Summit is the first of its kind, providing insights, methods, and data regarding the impact of telemedicine to practices, individual providers and industry partners and providing the profession with concrete tools to elevate your team and your practice.
Q: What practical benefits do you hope professionals can take away from the Summit?
A: The summit will present programs such as virtual communication training, the vital impact of veterinary nurses/techs, workflow optimization, and enhancing the client experience through virtual care with the aim of supporting veterinary professionals who are launching telemedicine as well as seasoned telehealth providers who are looking to expand their capabilities and build additional revenue for their practices. The program will also debunk the numerous misconceptions around virtual care models, providing clarity and direction to those providers who are considering the addition of tech-enabled solutions to their practice offerings.
Q: Why do you think those benefits are important?
A: As the Virtual Care revolution takes hold for animal health, both providers and their industry partners will experience significant shifts in their delivery models.
Q: How do you think veterinary professionals can best prepare themselves for the future of veterinary care?
A: How clients experience their own health care is shifting. Similar opportunities are more widely accessible in veterinary care. That which used to take place only in brick-and-mortar settings can now occur digitally. By increasing access to veterinarians and specialists, telehealth will help to ensure that clients receive the right care at the right place and at the right time.
The acquirement of digital literacy as well as an openness towards technology will be essential. An awareness of how hard it is to change attitudes and old habits and an understanding of the commitment to embrace change is imperative. VVCA is dedicated to providing guidelines and toolkits to make these shifts as smooth as possible.
Q: How do you compare the veterinary profession and human medicine profession’s relationships with telehealth? If there’s a gap or difference, how do you explain it?
A: The top barriers in both professions have been predominantly technology-specific and can be overcome through training, change-management techniques, and a combination of care delivery by telemedicine and personal client-to-provider interaction. Other shared concerns are medical professionals’ resistance to change and state licensing limitations. Human healthcare has added complexities with regard to confidentiality and privacy issues (HIPAA, for example) as well as billing and reimbursement inadequacies.
Q: Is this initiative driven by the pandemic? If not, how do you think the pandemic changed attitudes?
A: Virtual care in veterinary medicine has been around for a very long time. The pandemic was a catalyst for the VVCA’s 11-member board to come together and formalize our association for this relevant and growing segment of veterinary medicine. The need for best practices guidelines has never been stronger!
To register for the August 18 event, visit virtualcaresummit.vet.