Veterinarians still warming up to telemedicine

Dr. Greg Bishop believes veterinary telemedicine has the potential to advance animal welfare, reach unserved animal populations, and appeal to tech-savvy pet owners, among other things.

And yet, the Portland, Oregon small vet believes that many veterinarians will not take telemedicine seriously for the time being because it is inferior to traditional practical research.

Dr. Bishop thinks this is a mistake.

Dr. Greg Bishop

Studies show: “Customers are very satisfied with telemedicine and willing to pay for it. What we lose in terms of certain clinical aspects, we make up for by not burdening the animals with a visit to the veterinary clinic, ”explained Dr. Bishop speaking during the Veterinary Telemedicine: What’s the Evidence? Session. on July 29th during the AVMA Virtual Convention 2021.

He also referred to a handful of surveys that showed that most veterinarians in the US and Europe view telemedicine as incompatible with veterinary medicine. In addition to concerns about the profitability and legality of prescribing prescriptions, the main complaint made by veterinarians was the inability to properly diagnose animal patients via video stream, SMS, or email.

Dr. Bishop suggest that the recent surge in veterinary telemedicine supply is only temporary. In collaboration with the Veterinary Information Network, Dr. Bishop conducted a survey of small animal practitioners in North America in the fall of 2020 that measured the prevalence of telemedicine use during the pandemic. While the survey confirmed an increase in the number of practices using video conferencing (42%), most respondents said they would stop offering the service once public health restrictions were lifted.

“So the tendency was to use them (telemedicine) to overcome it (the pandemic) and then deal with it,” explained Dr. Bishop. “And even of those affected by the restrictions, less than half were using this technology, which for me is a surprisingly small percentage.”

Dr. Bishop tried to allay some veterinarians’ concerns about telemedicine during his talk. To start, he cited two surveys from 2018 and 2020 that found people were willing to pay between $ 38 and $ 40 for a virtual visit to a veterinarian. While the fee is admittedly low, the fee is noteworthy in light of the 2011 Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study, which found that a sizable segment of U.S. pet owners cited cost as a reason not to take their pets to a veterinarian.

“It is actually an advantage that a telemedicine visit would be cheaper because it is accessible to many people and there are many people who need it,” said Dr. Bishop.