While I’m still a practicing veterinarian near Lafayette, Indiana and operate a holistic veterinary clinic in Pine Village, I also offer “tele-medicine” options to my virtual patients. These are patients that I may never see, but still diagnose, prescribe for, and treat. Some of these pets live halfway across the globe… others just a few states away. So, let’s talk about the issue of virtual veterinary care.
How does it work?
I do everything I can to almost “see” the patient — virtually. I get all the copies of records and pictures. That helps me almost see the patient. I spend a lot of time before the actual telephone “appointment” reviewing the records and looking at everything so when the owner then gives me their run down I can put that together and get my own mental picture of what’s going on.
This isn’t so different than traditional veterinary fact finding. I have to look at your pet’s health history (records) and often rely on the pet parent to tell me what they have been seeing at home.
The pet parent and I spend about 45 minutes talking on the phone talking about everything — so that I can get an idea of what’s going on.
Sometimes I have to recommend that they go back to their veterinarian for more testing. Sometimes I have my virtual clients try a course of action and then we check back in at two weeks to see how things have changed. Are they better or worse or the same?
Often with virtual clients we are still referring back to the primary veterinarian, and their veterinarian is still the primary veterinarian but we are asking, “Hey do you mind doing this extra test, this one extra thing?”
Sometimes we recommend herbal medication and that sort of thing that we can mail to our patients. It just depends on what’s the issue that we are treating.
Getting your veterinarian to fax over records to another veterinarian for a second opinion or virtual consult is usually as simple as asking. Some people feel uncomfortable asking their veterinarian for this, but I encourage them to ask anyway. Instead they send their own records… but a receipt showing the temperature of 104 degrees on a certain day does not give me enough information. The records are better