President’s column: Advancing telehealth to enhance and expand patient care

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President's column - Dr. Lori Teller


They're always inventing something fine,
Which is fully automatic, and it saves you time.
You push a little button and it's all done for you,
Easier than saying ABC.
~Ninette, “Push a Little Button”

OMG! Can you believe the song “Push a Little Button” is from 1966? And it is still so relevant today! You can push a button or click a link to do just about anything these days. New technologies offer to make our lives easier and more efficient, and to free up time to do more enjoyable things with those we love. 

Telehealth is one such technology that—when used appropriately—can help make practicing veterinary medicine easier and more efficient. This is why the AVMA, along with Merck Animal Health and Veterinary Study Groups, founded the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care, which has the support of almost 50 leading professional and industry organizations.

The coalition’s goals are to enhance and expand access to veterinary care by leveraging technology while safeguarding the health and welfare of animals and providing excellent service to the people who care for them. 

Many veterinary practices adopted the use of telehealth during COVID-19. But, just as in human medicine, its use has dropped with the resumption of in-person visits. Connected care incorporates the best of in-person and virtual visits to build on the trusting relationship between veterinarians and our clients, enhance the human-animal bond, improve compliance with medical recommendations, provide for remote monitoring, and allow for earlier intervention when problems develop. 

What does the coalition do?

The coalition’s activity is wide-ranging, including these activities and more:

  • Raising awareness about the benefits of telehealth as a part of veterinary practice
  • Helping veterinary teams assess how to better take advantage of telehealth technologies
  • Refining current resources and developing new ones as needs arise
  • Determining the impacts of telehealth on quality of patient care, access to care, and practice efficiencies 

The coalition will be providing multiple CE opportunities on telehealth, including at the upcoming Viticus Group—WVC Annual Conference. We will review the current regulatory environment and share examples of the effective implementation of telehealth in companion animal and food animal practices. 

If you’re planning to attend WVC, don’t miss these sessions in the AVMA educational track:

Monday, February 20

Connected care 101: What is telehealth?
Dr. Gail Golab, AVMA chief veterinary officer
2:00 – 2:50 p.m. PT

Telehealth: How can I implement it in companion animal practice?
Dr. Lori Teller, AVMA president
3:00 – 3:50 p.m. PT

Telehealth: How can I implement it in food animal practice?
Dr. Calvin Booker, General manager for services and research, TELUS Agriculture
4:35 – 5:25 p.m. PT

To learn more about the coalition and its efforts to better serve patients, clients, veterinary teams, and practices, visit



What about telehealth for equine patients.., specifically regarding the new and changing HISA regulations.

RE: Telehealth

Thank you for reaching out. HISA regulations define a VCPR that is consistent with the other federal definitions of the VCPR adopted by FDA and USDA (i.e., an in-person examination/premise visit is required to establish the VCPR).

HISA's definition is as follows:

Such relationship requires the following: (1) The Veterinarian, with the consent of the Trainer (on behalf of the Owner), has accepted responsibility for making medical judgments about the health of the Horse; (2) the Veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the Horse to make a preliminary diagnosis of its medical condition; (3) the Veterinarian has performed an examination of the Horse and is acquainted with the keeping and care of the Horse; (4) the Veterinarian is available to evaluate and oversee treatment outcomes, or has made appropriate arrangements for continuing care and treatment; (5) the relationship is maintained by veterinary visits as needed; and (6) the medical judgments of the Veterinarian are independent and are not dictated by the Trainer or Owner of the Horse. (b) The Trainer and Veterinarian are both responsible for ensuring compliance with this Rule, except that the medical judgment to recommend a drug treatment or to prescribe a drug is the responsibility of the Veterinarian, and the decision to proceed with a drug treatment that has been so recommended is the responsibility of the Owner (who may be represented by the Trainer or other agent).

For more information on implementing telemedicine services at your practice, you can visit…

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