Is there an increasing role for veterinary telemedicine?

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The VCI has published the findings of research that it commissioned in relation to veterinary telemedicine.

According to the body, the consultation’s aim was to ensure that its provisions on veterinary telemedicine are “in line with best practice”.

It stated that the results would later inform its revised Code of Conduct for Veterinary Practitioners and Nurses.

It issued three separate studies on veterinary practitioners, veterinary nurses and stakeholders (including the general public).

Veterinary telemedicine

35% of vets said that there is an “increasing role” for veterinary telemedicine (use of telemedicine in delivering care and treatment to animals) in providing veterinary services.

43% of stakeholders were of the same view, while 35% of veterinary nurses were of this belief.

Furthermore, 92% of vets are of the opinion that knowledge of the animals’ environment, husbandry conditions, diet, and veterinary medical history are important in determining diagnosis and treatment for an animal or herd or flock.

94% also agreed, as did 86% of stakeholders that participated in the survey.

The body also asked respondents if they believe that a physical inspection of animals or animal products destined for the food chain should be required to allow a veterinary practitioner to certify the animal’s condition.

90% of vets answered ‘yes’, as did 88% of vet nurses and 62% of stakeholders.

Remote technologies

The VCI asked respondents to declare what level of confidence they would have in their own delivery of veterinary services using remote technologies for the following areas: Triage/initial assessment of animal/herd (allowing for urgency of referral to be assessed).

68% of vets said they “would feel confident”, as did 71% of vet nurses and 62% of stakeholders.

As part of the consultation, participants expressed what level of confidence they would have in their delivery of veterinary services using remote technologies for the following areas to prescribe prescription-only medicines or products based on the use of remote technologies.

23% of vets said they would be, as did 23% of vet nurses and 34% of stakeholders.

Furthermore, the survey also shed light on AMR, with 65% of vets declaring that they believe veterinary telemedicine use could potentially lead to an increase.

68% of vet nurses also shared this view, but only 28% of stakeholders agreed.

The VCI also asked vets: do you believe remote consulting, via telecommunications, could be used for the following?

  • Triage/assessment of animal’s condition – 73%;
  • Diagnosing animal condition (without a ‘hands-on’ examination) – 19%;
  • Prescribing of treatment to include medicines (such as anti-parasites, antibiotics, pain medication etc.) – 36%;
  • None of the above – 22%.
Confidence in forming a clinic diagnosis and treatment plan

Vets when asked to indicate how confident they would feel using telemedicine when forming:

Image: VCI

They then declared how confident they would feel allowing vets to prescribe animal remedies that POMs under the following conditions:

Vet MedImage: VCI

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