New coalition of veterinary groups aims to advance telehealth for patient care

Founding coalition members include more than 30 veterinary associations and industry businesses.

A group of leading professional and industry organizations have formed the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care with the goal of seeking to enhance and expand patient care through wider use of telehealth in veterinary medicine. Announced during the 2022 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the coalition will collaborate across the veterinary and animal health industry to enhance and expand veterinary care by leveraging technology, while safeguarding the health and welfare of animals and the people who care for them, according to an organizational press release.

“Proper use of telehealth holds great potential to improve access to veterinary services, enhance the medical care we provide for our patients, strengthen and support our relationships with our clients, and improve the efficiency of our veterinary healthcare teams and the services we deliver,” said Jose Arce, DVM, president of the AVMA, said in the release.

Use of telehealth, including telemedicine, increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, but adoption has slowed in both human and veterinary health care as in-person visits have resumed, and many veterinary practices are not taking full advantage of available tools, according to Arce. He emphasized that before telehealth is used, an in-person veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) needs to be established.

Scott Bormann, senior vice president of Merck Animal Health, a founding coalition member, noted that in-person examinations and client relationships lead to healthier animals, a more efficient staff, and support for continuity of patient care, when paired with telehealth services. “The tools, technology, and resources that are provided to veterinarians through telehealth support, and promote ongoing and regular patient care, help reduce some of the mental stresses being placed on veterinarians due to increased demand for services, and the time it takes for a patient to receive veterinary advice and care,” said Bormann, in the release.

“Veterinary telemedicine is most effective and safest—for patients, clients, and veterinarians/veterinary practices—when used to maintain a VCPR that has already been established via an in-person examination,” said Link Welborn, DVM, DABVP, CEO of the Veterinary Study Groups, another founding member of the coalition, in the release. “We’ll be looking to coalition members to help develop and share resources that will support veterinarians in seamlessly integrating telehealth into their practices while recognizing the importance of the VCPR.”

The Coalition’s goals and next steps include the following:

  • Building awareness of the opportunities that telehealth presents for bettering patient care.
  • Helping veterinarians explore and adopt tools of telehealth that
  • Strengthen relationships among practices, clients, and patients
  • Improve continuity in patient care
  • Fully engage technology to advance care
  • Enhance practice efficiency and support the wellbeing of veterinary teams.
  • Building and providing practical education and tools for veterinarians and their teams across the profession that help them integrate a variety of telehealth services in ways that work for their practice.
  • Advocacy for regulatory actions that support the use of telehealth while simultaneously respecting the integrity of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship and assuring the safety of veterinary patients and the confidence of their owners in the quality of veterinary care provided.

In addition to the AVMA, Veterinary Study Groups, and Merck Animal Health, other founding coalition members include veterinary associations and industry businesses, as follows:

  • Alaska Veterinary Medical Association
  • American Association of Avian Pathologists
  • American Association of Bovine Practitioners
  • American Association of Equine Practitioners
  • American Association of Swine Veterinarians
  • American Heartworm Society
  • AmerisourceBergen/MWI
  • Animal Health Institute
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Covetrus
  • Elanco
  • Florida Veterinary Medical Association
  • Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association
  • Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association
  • Iowa Veterinary Medical Association
  • Michigan Veterinary Medical Association
  • Midwest Veterinary Supply
  • Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association
  • Missouri Veterinary Medical Association
  • National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
  • National Veterinary Associates
  • Nevada Veterinary Medical Association
  • North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association
  • North Dakota Veterinary Medical Association
  • Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association
  • South Carolina Association of Veterinarians
  • Televet
  • Texas Veterinary Medical Association
  • Vermont Veterinary Medical Association
  • Virginia Veterinary Medical Association
  • Washington State Veterinary Medical Association

To learn more about the Coalition, its growing membership, and the resources available for veterinary professionals, please visit avma.org/connectedcare.

Reference

Veterinary groups launch new coalition to advance telehealth for patient care. News release. AVMA. July 30, 2022. Accessed July 31, 2022.

https://www.avma.org/news/press-releases/veterinary-groups-launch-new-coalition-advance-telehealth-patient-care

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