For many veterinarians, the pandemic was the time when they started experimenting with telemedicine and remote diagnostics. However, in many cases these consultations were not regulated and perhaps not valued by clients who were unfamiliar with the process
After several years, we can see how telemedicine and remote diagnosis in veterinary medicine is still not the norm in clinics, but everything indicates that in the future it will be an important part of the job due to the digital habits of the new generations.
In addition, we can see an increase in the number of companies expanding their reach into this part of the market. What impact can remote diagnostics have on your practice? What should you consider before implementing telemedicine?
What Are Remote Diagnostics in Veterinary Medicine?
One of the four pillars of telemedicine is remote diagnostics, alongside remote prescribing, consultations, and third-party generated medical data, according to the European Veterinary Federation. Although so far this service has only been offered in an informal way, we have already seen some of the benefits of using remote diagnostics.
For example, thanks to improved online communication tools, pet owners can consult directly with a professional on veterinary questions. This way, the patient can avoid the stress of being transported to the clinic and the owner can have quality information at home. The veterinarian can also avoid the accumulation of patients in waiting rooms, unless it’s strictly necessary.
Considering the tendency to search for medical information on Internet search engines, keeping this communication channel open allows the veterinarian’s role to be highlighted. However, in order to be truly feasible for all parties, remote diagnostics need to be regulated in the coming years.
The Regulation of Remote Diagnosis
Because of its somewhat rushed beginnings, the practice of telemedicine and remote diagnosis does not yet have clear guidelines. Even so, we can already see some mentions in the code of ethics of the College of Veterinarians, where it recommends that this practise be used only in cases where the veterinarian has made a previous physical examination of the patient.
In short, telemedicine and remote diagnosis can be complementary tools to follow up on patients. For many veterinarians, telemedicine is already a reality.
Remote diagnosis is still a pending task for the law and for veterinary associations. Many aspects are still unresolved, such as defining in which exact cases a physical examination is necessary or whether, in the future, it will be possible to carry out the diagnosis without the need for a prior face-to-face examination.
Tools to Improve Remote Diagnosis
Whether regulated or not, the need to offer telemedicine is increasingly emerging, particulary among younger generations, with 60% of the young people supporting the use of veterinary telemedicine, according to the AVMA.
Faced with this, what tools can veterinarians use to prepare themselves? First of all, it’s necessary to have a device with a camera and a strong internet connection to attend to patients. But beyond communication, the vet can also improve their diagnosis through tools such as the multi-parametric harness, a wearable tool that allows vets to monitor several vital signs of the animal.
This type of tool is particularly useful in cases where postoperative monitoring is necessary. The pet can comfortably wear this device, so that the information is recorded in the veterinarian’s database for subsequent follow-up.
Through remote diagnosis, it’s also possible to use preventive medicine, thanks to the ease with which the patient’s health can be monitored. This way, the animal can count on a greater length and quality of life.
In summary, remote diagnosis is a trend that is gradually gaining relevance in veterinary clinics, and will be an ideal complement to improve patient follow-up. However, to accelerate this trend, regulation and standardisation will be necessary in order to meet the highest professional standards.