How the Pandemic Has Changed Veterinary Medicine
Posted by Des Sinkevich on November 5, 2020
Leveraging technology for patient visits
One of the most effective strategies for slowing the spread of the virus has been an emphasis on distance. That distance, however, can be worrisome to some pet parents who aren’t allowed to be in the exam room with their furry friend. Add in the potential for long wait times and additional stress on the already heavy workload for clinic staff and you have a powder keg of emotions that can interrupt the steady flow of work day-to-day. However, with safety for clients and staff of the utmost importance, there seems little to be done to change the process. But the benefit of living in modern-day 2020 is the abundance of technology readily available. Savvy veterinary clinics are beginning to leverage that tech to make their workflow – and the lives of their staff and patients – more manageable.
Digital resources and tools that practices can leverage include
- Telemedicine. While telemedicine isn’t a new service to animal or human medicine, it’s one that has been used only rarely. In veterinary medicine, it’s use was even more sparse in the past due to federal and state regulations governing the veterinarian-client patient relationship. Typically, a veterinarian would need to have a firmly established history with a patient before even contemplating a telehealth appointment. However, with the FDA and other regulatory bodies loosening the restrictions in response to the need for social distancing, veterinary telemedicine is poised to offer a solution for overwhelmed practices across the country. Through telemedicine, your practice can reduce wait times, see more patients, increase wellness visits, and triage the more serious cases.
- Social media. Social media has long been a tool to connect with existing and prospective clients, as well as showcase what your clinic has to offer. In the time of COVID-19, it can also offer a way to connect clients with patients during visits and overnight stays. From kennel live feeds that can be accessed through Facebook to utilizing Messenger for patient updates, veterinarians and practice managers can offer comfort and reassurance to clients.
- Video conferencing tools. There’s no doubt that video conferencing tools have become a necessity during the pandemic across all industries. Savvy veterinary clinics can use these resources to provide an “in-person” experience for clients while veterinarians and veterinary technicians are examining their pets. Using both curbside drop off and conferencing technology, clinics can maintain the safety of social distancing while still consulting and educating pet parents in real time during their pet’s visit.
Stronger client communication
While phone calls and mailed appointment reminder cards were the main method of communicating with clients in the past, handling an influx of concerned pet owners now requires multiple touchpoints. Two-way texting, picture messaging, online patient portals, and access to pets’ electronic medical records can offer clients an in-depth picture of their pet’s health while allowing clinic staff to focus less on clogged phone lines and more on patients.
Increased responsibility for credentialed veterinary technicians
- Understand what credentialed technicians can and can’t do
- Offer further training to those technicians that aren’t yet credentialed
- Consider looking into the possibility of offering veterinary technician appointments to clients