As the use of technology and communication continues to grow at a rapid rate in South Africa, which has been escalated by lockdown, the incorporation of telehealth and telemedicine has become a topic of interest within the veterinary fraternity. As a modern solution to unprecedented circumstances, telehealth is described as the virtual veterinary services and telemedicine is a term used for the digital interaction between a veterinarian and their client/patient. The appropriate application of telemedicine, according to telehealth app Medici can enhance an animal’s care by facilitating text, voice and video communications, diagnostics, treatments, client education, scheduling and other operational tasks with a veterinarian.
Today, many families see their animals as family members and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure they live a happy and fulfilled life. According to research, the need for digital engagement is only going to strengthen with 39% of millennials who are most likely to own a dog or cat compared to the previous baby boomer generation.
The South African Veterinary Services (SAVA) alongside Medici takes a further look into the benefits of telemedicine for pet owners and veterinarians who work with companion pets, livestock or exotic animals.
- General wellness advice
Whether you have a question on a specific topic or require further insight or information, our first port of call is the internet. However, we are often bombarded with a multitude of results that we must sift through to get the most accurate answer or source. Telemedicine, whether delivered through message, email or video can help veterinarians provide owners with expert advice they can trust. It also allows for pet owners and their veterinarians develop a closer relationship. Owners and their animals will receive better and more qualified care by engaging directly with their veterinarian, faster assessments and a greater sense of care.
- Convenient care
Taking an animal to the vet can be challenging if the animal for example; does not enjoy the experience, is to large to easily transport, gets anxious about being in the car or around other animals, is a senior animal or is terminally ill. Telemedicine offers a sense of comfort and convenience for pet owners who are only required to take their pet to their veterinary clinic, if it is an emergency.
- Affordable and accessible
Animals, like people, require constant care. Telehealth provides an easy, convenient and affordable option for patients and their owners for any after-hours care needs, which increases the loyalty and confidence amongst pet owners.
- Post-surgical care
When an animal has undergone any type of surgery, post-surgical care is of the utmost importance. A key benefit of telemedicine is that owners can now help their veterinarian monitor this crucial stage simply through the power of their smartphone or smart device (e.g. laptop/iPad etc). Veterinarians can monitor a patient’s post-op recovery by simply asking the owner to send images or videos of where the operation/incision took place. This will allow for the veterinarian to ensure that there are no abnormalities. Video calls or videos can also help veterinarians monitor the animal’s behaviour and mobility.
Locally, the South African Veterinary Services (SAVA) recently ran a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on veterinary services and telemedicine. The results
A recent survey from SAVA indicates that 37% of respondents indicate that they make use of remote consulting (whether through established platforms such as Medici, or informal channels such as WhatsApp). However, only 21% of veterinarians that perform remote consulting actually charge for the service. It is important to state that, whether a veterinarian performs a physical consultation or an online consultation, the veterinarian applies his/her knowledge and experience to be able to make an initial determination.
Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.