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July 15, 2021

Learn more about telemedicine at AVMA Convention

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Many veterinarians started offering telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to continue helping patients while keeping clients and staff members safe.

It was a rapid transition, however, and practitioners may be wondering if they are complying with state and federal requirements and how to get the most benefit from offering telehealth services. Moreover, a handful of states are seeing efforts to broaden the regulatory requirements for establishing a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship to include virtual examinations.

Four states currently allow for establishing a VCPR virtually: Idaho (but not when prescribing), Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia. An attempt to broaden VCPR requirements failed in the Florida legislature this session, while Connecticut and Nevada lawmakers amended the veterinary state practice act to require an in-person examination prior to providing telehealth services. A federal VCPR, which requires an in-person examination, still applies to extralabel drug use and veterinary feed directives in all states.

Three continuing education sessions meant to shed additional light on veterinary telehealth will be offered on July 29 during AVMA Virtual Convention 2021.

Cat owner with cat and laptop computer in telemedicine session with veterinarian

Dr. Myron Kebus will present “Telehealth in Fish Medicine,” in which he will share the evolution of telehealth services in his practice and address the economics of delivering fish telehealth. The challenges and limitations will be presented along with the advantages and opportunities.

Dr. Kebus will also discuss the importance of having a previously established veterinary-client-patient relationship and give case examples to illustrate both the straightforward and more-challenging situations that aquaculture veterinarians may encounter.

In addition, AVMA’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Gail Golab and Dr. Warren Hess, AVMA assistant director of animal and public health, will give the presentation “Telehealth and Connected Care: Keeping Better Connected With Your Patients and Clients.”

Participants will learn about key aspects of the “AVMA Guidelines for the Use of Telehealth in Veterinary Practice,” released earlier this year. The guide touches on 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. Plus, participants will learn about the most recent advances in how connected care is being incorporated into the practice of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Gregory Bishop’s presentation, “Veterinary Telemedicine: What’s the Evidence?” will be offered later that day. Dr. Bishop will synthesize the current state of veterinary telemedicine, including an overview of the various service models, legal and ethical concerns, and a review of the emerging scientific literature.

His lecture will also present information on the economics of telemedicine, client perspectives, and some of the barriers to adoption. In addition, he’ll touch on specific applications for telemedicine, including dermatology, behavior, and triage.