Retailers see advantages in providing veterinary telehealth

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Chewy, the online pet food and products retailer, has joined the growing number of companies providing telehealth services and connecting pet-owning customers with veterinarians.

“Visiting a local veterinarian continues to be a challenge for many pet parents during this time,” said Sumit Singh, CEO of Chewy, in a statement announcing the launch of Connect With a Vet last October. “The veterinary community has also been affected by shutdowns or shorter clinic hours. So we thought about why we shouldn’t find a solution that can help the communities as well as our customers and vets in this time of greatest need. “

Connect With a Vet was originally launched in Florida and Massachusetts in Spring 2020 and has since expanded to 47 states by Chewy. The service is available exclusively and free of charge to customers who have subscribed to Chewy’s auto-ship program.

According to Dr. Aaron Smiley, Indiana VMA president and telemedicine attorney, currently provides veterinary telehealth services to approximately 35 companies. This is one way businesses can build customer loyalty.

“The customer benefits from getting advice from a veterinary expert versus doing a Google search or asking a friend on Facebook,” said Dr. Smiley face. “And the animal always benefits when its owner has access to veterinary medicine.”

A study by AVMA and Purdue University, published online on Science Direct last August, examined customer prospects and willingness to pay for veterinary telehealth. The researchers found that pet owners prefer to be connected with their veterinarian rather than a random national-level veterinarian, and that they are willing to pay more for that connection.

“This is critical to the telemedicine discussion and the concern of veterinarians that telemedicine will take away their customers and harm the practice,” said Dr. Matthew J. Salois, AVMA’s Chief Veterinary Economist. “On the contrary, our study shows that telehealth can be an extremely powerful tool to deepen veterinary relationships with their customers and support the economic sustainability of the practice.”

In an earlier version of this article, Chewy ownership was incorrectly reported. It was recently separated from PetSmart and Chewy is now independent from the company.