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February 01, 2021

Telehealth guidelines give veterinarians a place to start

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A practical guide that supports the use of telehealth across the entire profession is now available from the AVMA. The thoughtful integration of telehealth into veterinary practice supports better patient care, enhances veterinarians’ relationships with their clients, improves staff utilization, and helps to create additional income.

Guide covers

“AVMA Guidelines for the Use of Telehealth in Veterinary Practice,” the content of which was supported by the Council on Veterinary Service, is a step-by-step reference that shares potential service offerings within the telehealth space; what needs to be considered when choosing technology; legal considerations, including those around establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship; monetization strategies; and tips for staff and client engagement.

According to the guide, “Implementation of telehealth within a practice should stay focused on three goals: 1) Improve the level of care for the patient, 2) Increase access of underserved populations to veterinary medical care, and 3) improve utilization of all members of the veterinary healthcare team.”

The guide also introduces the concept of connected care, which is “the integration of digital technologies to enhance and support the veterinarian-client-patient relationship and facilitate proactive and ongoing care through improved communication, diagnosis, and monitoring.” It is an approach to veterinary practice that is patient and client centered and that actively engages the entire veterinary health care team.

Other information in the new guidance includes definitions for terms related to telehealth, such as telemedicine, teleadvice, teleconsulting, telemonitoring, teletriage, and telesupervision; a sample practice workflow demonstrating how connected care can be practically integrated into veterinary practice; and workspace needs for the successful delivery of telemedicine services.

The AVMA guide can be downloaded and is polybagged with this issue of JAVMA.

In addition, the AVMA has simultaneously collaborated with the American Animal Hospital Association to develop a guide specific to small animal practice, titled “2021 AAHA/AVMA Telehealth Guidelines for Small-Animal Practice.”

The AAHA/AVMA guidance will be available starting in late January.