Fitting a veterinary visit into your busy schedule can be tough, but making your pet wait for care is more difficult. Fortunately, Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital has a solution for jam-packed schedules—our telemedicine services. You can schedule an appointment to speak to one of our veterinarians, and show us what is concerning you about your pet through videos and pictures, all from the comfort of your home.
Whether you have only a brief amount of time available during the day, or because you can’t get to our hospital right away, telemedicine is the answer to your pet’s care. Read on for our answers to your questions about telemedicine, and how it works.
Question: What is veterinary telemedicine?
Answer: Telemedicine is a tool used to exchange medical information electronically from one site to another, to improve a patient’s health status. Telemedicine has been used in human medicine for many years, long before smartphones or cell phones were available, and veterinary medicine now is slowly making the jump to telemedicine services from the comfort of your own home. While telemedicine can’t replace all in-house veterinary care, it can help in many aspects.
We are excited to use telemedicine to enhance pet care by opening up a convenient line of communication between pet owners and our veterinarians.
Q: How does a telemedicine appointment work?
A: Here at Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital, we use an app called Anipanion to discuss your pet’s health. Rather than calling our clinic phone, or sending us an email, you can chat directly with one of our veterinarians, and can also video chat, if your pet’s condition warrants a video. We can usually assess your pet’s health status with a quick picture, but call us, if you’d like to schedule a video call. During your pet’s virtual visit, we will discuss any concerns you may have and, focusing on the condition that concerns you, make recommendations to improve your pet’s health at home. We may suggest an in-clinic appointment for further diagnostics, or prescribe a treatment, which you can pick up from our hospital.
Q: What medical conditions can be managed through telemedicine?
A: While telemedicine can’t replace all your pet’s veterinary care, it can save you a trip on occasion. Telemedicine consults are often used for recheck exams if your pet is improving, or has mild problems, or if you need general medical advice, such as nutrition or behavior questions. Here are a few of the conditions we can use telemedicine for:
- Recheck exams for medical conditions, or after surgery
- Gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting or diarrhea
- Preliminary triage for skin, eye, and ear conditions
- Wound assessment
- Behavior questions
- Nutrition and dietary consultations
- Hospice care
If you’re unsure whether your pet’s condition precludes them from being a telemedicine consultation candidate, call us, and we’ll let you know if your pet needs to be seen in-person.
Q: Can I still use my pet’s insurance with telemedicine?
A: As pet insurance becomes more commonplace, you may wonder if you can still enjoy your pet’s insurance company benefits for our telemedicine service. Check with your insurance provider, but most companies process accident and illness claims normally when using our service. Pet insurance companies rely on our notes for sending reimbursements, in addition to the details outlined in your policy.
However, not all insurance policies are the same, and some may preclude some telemedicine services. Some companies also require an in-person appointment for new pets before they will provide coverage, and a telemedicine appointment may not fit the bill. If you’re unsure about telemedicine services not being covered, contact your insurance provider first.
Q: What are the limitations of veterinary telemedicine?
A: No app or technology, no matter how sophisticated, can replace a thorough physical exam. When our veterinarians check your pet from nose to tail, they aren’t simply petting your furry friend, but also gaining information about many aspects of your pet’s health. Unfortunately, we can’t listen to your pet’s heart or lungs, or perform a neurologic or orthopedic exam, through a virtual visit. If your pet requires diagnostic testing, you will need to schedule an in-house appointment, so we can run blood work, take X-rays, or perform other necessary diagnostic tests. Telemedicine is great for routine rechecks, and simple skin and eye conditions, but can’t replace a full veterinary visit.
Also, before using telemedicine, we must previously have seen your pet in-person. We cannot legally offer medical advice, diagnose conditions, or prescribe treatment without a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship, so you cannot use our telemedicine service until we have seen your pet.