is a new Telemedicine Platform expanding the availability to pets while also providing an income source for vets and techs.
Being a veterinarian or a veterinary tech/tech is a hard job, especially in the current climate of COVID where clients are stressed and angry, and clinics are all over-worked and understaffed.
This leads more and more vets and techs looking for something they can do to earn an income that isn’t in-clinic work. They are looking for jobs they can do from home, or on their own schedule. Also, although the incomes for vets are improving, they still lag behind for many vets, coupled with the debt load of many veterinarians, many vets and techs are looking for another income source.
is an online veterinary advice service, that provides telemedicine to pet owners in the U.S.A. and Canada.
What is Telemedicine?
“Telemedicine refers to the practice of veterinary medicine (advice, diagnosis, treatment) which occurs at a distance using telecommunication between a veterinarian and an animal owner.”- CVMA Telemedicine Statement.
Telemedicine, especially in the veterinary industry, is often a highly debated and polarizing subject amongst veterinarians.
PROS and CONS of Telemedicine:
PROS OF TELEMEDICINE:
- Easier access to veterinary advice (efficient & convenient)
- Decreased load on veterinary clinics
- Income option for vets/techs
- Veterinary advice for pets that otherwise would not go into a vet (animal temperament/geographical location/owner’s travel ability)
- More affordable for pet owners (veterinary care to a new demographic)
- Able to visualize (via video) animals’ behaviour at home
- Less stress for pets
- Reassurance for owners to see if you need to see a vet (good for triage)
- Speed of access to a vet
- Good for repeat/follow up exams
CONS OF TELEMEDICINE:
- Potential for mis-diagnosis
- More reliance on owner’s interpretation
- Lack of physical exam
- Animals hide their disease, and owners bias history based on their desires
- Difficult (or impossible) to develop a VCPR
- Possibility of delay to needed intervention by relying on online advice
- Potential for over-prescribing medications or lowering of medical standards
- Unable to perform diagnostics
- Risks of prescribing medications without physical exam
- Risk of fraud
- Risk of pressure from clients pushing interventions
Overall, there are potentials for Telemedicine however, just like every part of the veterinary industry, it is self-regulated and each individual veterinarian or tech needs to be responsible for the advice and care they provide. Therefore it is imperative that if you do pursue Telemedicine you do so understanding the risks, and do not fall into client pressures to prescribe or diagnose when you feel it is uncomfortable. You must stand your ground and if an animal needs to be seen in person, or diagnostics need to be performed, you have to push for this and not be pressured otherwise.
A valid Veterinary Client Patient Relationship is required to diagnose and prescribe, and in some states/provinces this can legally be established with a virtual consult, and in some places it cannot. Knowing the legal implications of Telemedicine is important for any practitioner.
Especially given the COVID pandemic, the CVMA (Canada) and the AVMA (United States of America), have amended their rules on Telemedicine. Depending on your state/province, it can be possible for you to provide Telemedicine to clients where a valid Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR) exists, and in some places it is possible to ESTABLISH a VCPR with a telemedicine consult.
Here are the current (as of Feb 2021) links to the CVMA Telemedicine Statement
for Canadian Vets, and the AVMA Telemedicine Statement
for American Vets.
It is important to ensure you understand the rules and regulations in your state/province to make sure you are legally allowed to diagnose and prescribe.
Questions For Vetster:
is a company that is expanding the access to veterinary care via Telemedicine and Telehealth, and is a job oppourtunity for both vets and techs.
In order to gather information for potential vets and nurses thinking about working for Vetster, KICK ASS VETS asked the Vetster team for further information:
1. What type of license do you have to have?
YOU NEED TO BE LICENSED: DVM, RVT, CVT, LVT
2. What countries are included in your platform?
CURRENTLY CANADA AND USA ONLY
3. It this just for vets? Or techs too?
RVTs, BUT MUST BE LICENSED
4. Where are the clients from?
NORTH AMERICA CURRENTLY
5. What happens if you get clients from locations that aren't in your licenced area?
ON YOUR PROFILE IT IS DEFAULTED TO YOUR AREA
6. What type of advice do you give?
DVMs:TELEMEDICINE, RVTs:TELEHEALTH AND TELETRIAGE
7. Can you diagnose & prescribe?
8. What format are the consults?
9. How long are the consults?
15 MIN TIME SLOTS
10. How does payment work?
CLIENTS PRE BOOK AND PREPAY
11. What constitutes a 'successful consult'?
A COMPLETED CALL
12. How much do you get paid?
DVMs SET THEIR OWN FEES PER CALL, MINUS A 15% COMMISSION TO VETSTER
13. What liability are you under as a vet?
WE OFFER LIABILITY INSURANCE
14. Is there an interview process?
FOR THE CLIENTS: THEY COMPLETE A CHECKLIST WHICH WILL DIRECT THEM TO A DVM OR RVT BASED ON ANSWERS
15. Do you do background checks on your vets/techs?
YES: ALL INDIVIDUALS HAVE THEIR LICENSE VERIFIED AND MUST BE IN GOOD STANDING WITH THEIR GOVERNING BODY
16. Is there quality control on the recommendations/work Vetster provides?
YES - THERE IS A MEDICAL REVIEW PROCESS
17. What type of consults are techs performing?
TELEHEALTH AND TELETRIAGE
18. What type of liability do techs have?
THEY WOULD BE COVERED UNDER VETSTER INSURANCE
19. What is the pay structure for techs?
RVTs ARE CURRENTLY PAID $45 CDN 0R $40 USD MINUS 15% PER CALL
Telemedicine has potential advantages, both for pet owners, pets, clinics and veterinarians/nurses. However, it does come with risks that are higher then our human counterparts who have patients that not only show signs earlier in disease, but can also verbalize their own symptoms instead of relying on the owners interpretation. And these interpretations that can be fraught with biases and both conscious and subconscious by pet owners.
When pursuing Telemedicine we need to be aware of these possible risks, but if we practice with these risks in mind, we can expand not only the services we provide to our clients to increase compliance and therefore patient care, but we can also provide care to pets that would otherwise not be able to access veterinary care either due to temperament, geographic location, etc.
is able to provide this Telemedicine care, and has the added benefit of being another possible revenue for vets and nurses, from the convenience of their own home and on their own schedule.
if this seems like an opportunity you would like to pursue.
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM
Published February 19th, 2021
Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!
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