Are you considering telemedicine?

Telemedicine is now a firmly established tool to help augment veterinary care. Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital began offering telemedicine through the TeleVet platform the summer of 2019, but the benefits were more fully realized throughout the pandemic when a greater need emerged. As a small animal practitioner with 20 years of clinical experience, I could not have conceived this ability to provide care through technology when I first began my career. 

How do you know when telemedicine is a good option?

As you can imagine, there are medical concerns which are amenable to telemedicine, but some conditions where telemedicine is not the best option.

Sometimes it is not obvious, but I can share with you some of the more common conditions that we have managed with telemedicine. Every situation is unique, so there are times when we start with telemedicine only to decide that an in-hospital visit is needed. If it is an urgent need, then we can seamlessly facilitate getting your pet seen at the hospital.

Concerns that we routinely see requested through telemedicine include:

  • Acute diarrhea +/- minor vomiting (especially with known dietary indiscretions/dietary changes)
  • Coughing after boarding or daycare
  • Minor skin conditions
  • Feline herpes viral flare-ups
  • Hospice and palliative care
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Minor injuries
  • Rechecks after starting therapy/follow-up consultations which can be arranged with the veterinarian managing your pet’s treatment.
  • Behavioral concerns
  • Chronic disease management (epilepsy, osteoarthritis)

Conditions not amenable to telemedicine include:

  • Acute toxicity
  • Labored breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Significant vomiting +/- anorexia
  • Active bleeding
  • Collapse
  • Active seizure
  • Eye disease (with some exceptions)

How does telemedicine work at PHAH?

Video or telephone calls are available. I find that most clients prefer a telephone call because pets don’t always cooperate during video calls. Photos and/or videos can be uploaded prior to a consultation and provide valuable information in most cases.

After the consultation is complete, a written summary of the visit is provided and added to your pet’s medical record. Any medications prescribed are then dispensed.

It is important to note that the state of Georgia requires a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) when providing telemedicine to clients, which is defined as having an established patient relationship and having seen that patient within the last one year in order to have sufficient information to initiate a preliminary diagnosis. Client informed consent is also needed to ensure clients understand the limitations of telemedicine and an understanding that in-person consultations are alternatively available.

So, are you still considering telemedicine?

It is a great tool which can save you both time and money. If you are not sure that telemedicine is right for your concern, just reach out and we will walk you through it. Otherwise, you can start the conversation through our website!

Dr. Sharon Nath