Telemedicine is a subcategory of telehealth that involves use of a tool to exchange medical information electronically from one site to another to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Examples include using Skype or a mobile app to communicate with a client and visually observe the patient for a post-operative follow-up examination and discussion. Telemedicine is a tool of practice, not a separate discipline within the profession. The appropriate application of telemedicine can enhance animal care by facilitating communication, diagnostics, treatments, client education, scheduling, and other tasks. Telemedicine, while fairly new as a service offering in veterinary medicine, has been used in human healthcare for more than 25 years. Some of the initial situations where veterinarians have utilized telemedicine services within an existing VCPR include: general wellness care, after-hours care, post-surgical care, hospice care, and to facilitate access to veterinary care.
CLICK HERE for important questions and answers to implement telemedicine in your practice!
Indiana code 25-38.1-1-14.5 defines “Veterinarian-client-patient relationship” as follows:
“Veterinarian-client-patient relationship” means a relationship between a veterinarian and client that meets the following conditions:
If a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship exists, veterinary telemedicine could be an acceptable means to have a follow up examination or a valid means of one veterinarian consulting with another concerning the care of a patient with whom a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship exists.
In most instances there are no special requirements for liability insurance when it comes to offering telemedicine services. Veterinarians are expected to provide the same level of care whether veterinary services are offered in person or through telemedicine. However, we recommend that you ask your professional liability carrier for a recommendation.
Any service is possible with telemedicine as long as a VCPR is in place, and the attending veterinarian is comfortable assessing the patient remotely and feels able to exercise good clinical judgment to assist the patient.
Telemedicine service providers make it easy for you to conduct high-quality telemedicine consultation and also handle payments with the client. Most service providers pay the doctors a portion of the service fee and keep a portion to cover their costs of providing the technology. Each provider has unique terms and fees, so be sure to inquire about this directly with the providers to see which ones best meet your needs.
Sample listing of veterinary connected care companies – Learn More
AVMA Guidelines for the use of telehealth in veterinary practice – click here
AVMA resources and information – click here
Veterinary Virtual Care Association – click here
(Some information in this document is taken from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Veterinary Innovation Council.)