This post comes to us from the incredible Dr. Jessica Vogelsang.
We are in the midst of unprecedented times. The variation in how clinics are run from place to place has always been pretty significant, but now- it’s gigantic. And it happened seemingly overnight.
A month ago, telemedicine was the annoying concept no one wanted to talk about. Now everyone in charge is saying “Use telemedicine” and stopping short of telling you how.
Or maybe you contacted a telemedicine platform who is overwhelmed with requests and can’t get you onboarded for six weeks. They weren’t planning for everyone to suddenly get it either.
There are only two things you need to know:
1. With the world in a state of emergency, veterinarians are being given unprecedented latitude in doing what you’ve always wanted to do anyway: use your clinical judgment to do right by the pet. The law’s probably changing tomorrow anyway.
Day by day and even hour by hour, state veterinary medical boards have been suspending the traditional requirement for an in-person physical exam in order to provide emergency care when no other option is available. As a profession, I think we’re all looking towards the same goal here: getting through this and doing the right thing.
I’m trying to stay on top of the quick-moving regulatory changes at the Veterinary Telemedicine Association Facebook page; please do join and share what your state is doing. The ‘in-person VCPR’ requirement that we thought would take 50 years to change is toppling. Note: I’m not telling you to do something illegal. But I am telling you what’s illegal in February may be the standard of care in April, so don’t assume anything.
2. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
Even if your state still mandates an in-person exam to create a VCPR, even if nothing has changed from what you could do a month ago, you can still do SO MUCH. In every state, I’m aware of (except North Carolina, who will hopefully change soon), telemedicine with your already existing clients is A-ok. What does that mean?
-you can keep your chronic stable pets on their current meds for the duration of that VCPR without making them come in;
-you can make sure your dogs and cats get heartworm prevention in the upcoming months, recognizing that in these circumstances you might have to let go of that heartworm test that isn’t going to happen anyway;
-Even if you don’t have a live streaming platform (and let’s face it, there’s a steep learning curve there when we’re in the best of times), you can have clients text, message, or email you videos. If it’s something you can help with, you help. If you can’t, they know there is a legitimate reason to go to the ER. The ERs are already stretched thin without lines of atopic dogs with a hotspot that you could have managed with some videos and a talk. Conversely, we don’t want people crowdsourcing solutions for a constipated cat when you know he’s probably blocked.
People are so focused on the tools, and the onboarding and the wifi issues and the integration that we’re missing the point: when the world is in chaos, and a pet on the other side of town needs help, you’re going to use what’s in front of you to provide it. We’re the most stubborn and independent profession on the planet, and we’ve spent our entire careers telling everyone to stop telling us what to do.
So why are you waiting for someone to tell you what to do?
MacGyver that $#@! and figure out a solution, right? That’s what we do best. Products like Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts allow you to implement something quickly and easily.
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