As it approaches 11 o’clock at night, I find myself in a familiar situation… the daily reviewing of a wide range of videos and pictures sent to me by clients, in order to give a ‘veterinary opinion’.
With this in mind, I am torn between giving a pragmatic response to help both client and potential patient and my professional responsibility of ensuring health and welfare without actually having my ‘hands-on’ the patient. This is a dilemma which our industry is encountering. With the advent of high speed internet and video services it is easy to almost have a ‘remote’ consultation. Those people that know me, are very aware I am an avid supporter of all new technology and see a real benefit to both patients and clients. However I have some concerns. I feel that passing a generalised opinion is fine, however diagnosis and treatment, still in my opinion requires to actually be with the patient.
The reason I approach this subject in this blog is two-fold:
- Our governing body (the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) have launched both a professional and public consultation on whether telemedicine has a place in our industry.
- I can admit I probably spend in excess of an hour a day looking at photos and videos sent either by social media or email each day. Almost all require a response, with a large proportion also requiring a visit. My concerns are that the frequency and complexity of the requests is increasing and it is difficult to professionally (and legally) draw a line on how to respond to each case. As an adjunct, I have to also say that at present, this additional time I spend I do not charge for – in fact some responses are almost equal to the time spent on a visit and can result in a 20-30 minute telephone call. (This is quite often why most vets continue to work until the ‘early hours’ in order to get all of the responses done).
I would therefore like to invite people to comment on this blog post below, or go onto the RCVS website to have your say. Ask yourself this question: “Have you ever sent a photo, video, text, what’s app message etc, to your vet in order to help gain an opinion on a condition?”