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A Note on COVID-19 & Telemedicine

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA, Southern California Veterinary Medical Association

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Telemedicine can be a valuable tool during this time; however, the provision of telemedicine must still meet the regulations as defined in an individual state’s practice act.

For those clients with whom there is an existing veterinary–client–patient relationship (VCPR), telemedicine can be readily implemented for follow up on existing cases (eg, ears, skin, incisions). For patients seen regularly, telemedicine can offer peace of mind, treatment options, and analysis on whether there is a need for an in-person visit.

For patients that have not been seen in the practice for quite some time, the veterinarian will have to determine the nature of the problem and assess whether telemedicine is appropriate before it is offered as an option.

In the author’s opinion, for new patients, teletriage can determine whether the pet needs to be seen or not. Veterinarians should not use telemedicine to diagnose or set a treatment plan for a patient that has not been previously seen.

It is essential to document all telemedicine conversations in the medical record. Fees should be charged for the veterinarian and staff’s time.

There are some helpful telemedicine companies that can help jump-start telemedicine practices; in addition, readily available video chat services (eg, Skype, Facetime) can also be used.

Resources

For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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