Business Briefs: Essentials for Equine Veterinary Telemedicine

Many veterinarians expanded their telemedicine offerings during the pandemic; here are tips to do it better.

If you do decide to try a telemedicine platform, you should look carefully at all options through the lens of your clients. iStock/Verbaska Studio

Although many veterinarians have remained leery of providing veterinary opinions remotely, the pandemic created conditions that have accelerated the trend. As equine practitioners have seen an increase in the demand for their services and have struggled to hire associates, something had to change to allow them to provide care to their patients more efficiently.

If you feel unsure about the concept of telemedicine, please note that if you answer questions sent by text or e-mail, or have looked at a cell phone photo or video to decide whether an emergency visit is warranted, you are already practicing telemedicine.

When offering a telemedicine service, you need to market the service in a way that clients want it, have a mechanism to easily schedule appointments, a method for collecting payments, a standard way to conduct the “visit” and an efficient way to create the medical record entry.

One of the difficult aspects of telemedicine is properly documenting the encounter in order to have a complete medical record. Here is where a telemedicine platform comes in handy. As virtual interactions with clients have become more ubiquitous, companies have stepped into the gap and developed a variety of service applications. You certainly do not need a special platform to provide value to your clients, and you can document visits with screenshots and handwritten notes. However, a telemedicine app can make the documentation nearly seamless and allow you to easily monetize your time providing the service.

If you prefer DIY (do-it-yourself), appointments for virtual visits can be made with your receptionist, just like in-person farm calls are scheduled. The doctor can then utilize free meeting options such as Zoom or Google Meet and open those apps on a phone or laptop. Medical records can be created in the same fashion as if the veterinarian were there in person. Invoicing for telemedicine appointments can be created as the medical record is entered into the management so ware and e-mailed or mailed by the postal service to the client in the practice’s usual way.

Before you begin providing telemedicine services or consider researching and comparing telemedicine platforms, you need to understand how you intend to utilize telemedicine.

Will you create a list of appropriate situations or cases so your whole team is on the same page? Are you limiting telemedicine to rechecks? Are you allowing its use for new issues?

Determining your price list for different telemedicine services before beginning to o er them is essential. Because you only have your time to sell, giving free advice limits your income and your practice’s success. So, when does giving advice need to be an official telemedicine consult?

If you do decide to try a telemedicine platform, you should look carefully at all options through the lens of your clients. The use of the platform should be easy and require little technological expertise. The interface should be simple and clear, allowing payment options and documentation of the visit.

The cost should be affordable for your practice for the number of times you believe the service will be utilized. You should explore whether multiple doctors can utilize the application simultaneously, whether confidentiality and security are robust, and whether an integration with your practice management so ware is offered.

Times are changing, and while adopting new strategies can be stressful, ultimately they can help your practice excel. 

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