AVMA seeks your opinions on telemedicine recommendations

ComputerDr-GettyImages-508064826You may recall that the AVMA has been investigating telemedicine and how it might be used appropriately within the veterinary profession. A benchmark in that investigation has been reached in that the AVMA’s Practice Advisory Panel, which was assigned the issue, has provided its final report to the Board of Directors.

The AVMA now wants your input, especially on the Practice Advisory Panel’s recommendations regarding the AVMA’s Model Veterinary Practice Act and the policy on Remote Consulting, the summary of which starts on page 37 of the report.

Please send comments to Telemedicine@avma.org no later than March 15, 2017.  Your input is important! AVMA leadership will consider input received by the deadline as it deliberates potential AVMA policy, strategy, and resources on telemedicine.

11 thoughts on “AVMA seeks your opinions on telemedicine recommendations

  1. As I often say to my staff, do we want to copy human medicine practices? How’s that been working for you as the patient? (Most have been dissatisfied) I think telemedicine is great the way we use it now….As veterinarians consulting other veterinary specialists. As we all have experienced, the description owners give on the phone when making the appointment often is far different than the problem that presents on arrival at the appointment! How can you weed that out without being “hands on”? Is that really in the best interest of the client or the patient?

  2. As I often say to my staff, do we want to copy human medicine practices? How’s that been working for you as the patient? (Most have been dissatisfied) I think telemedicine is great the way we use it now….As veterinarians consulting other veterinary specialists. As we all have experienced, the description owners give on the phone when making the appointment often is far different than the problem presents on arrival at the appointment! How can you weed that out without being “hands on”? Is that really in the best interest of the client or the patient?

  3. I spent 7 years on the Veterinary Examining Board for Wisconsin. I embrace the VCPR. However, we practice in a rural area and do a LOT of canine reproduction. Sadly, we see a lot of badly handled reproduction cases and think that advising the client accurately would be better than what their local vets are doing. The frustration is the local vet should be collaborating with us for pyometras, high risk pregnancies, prostate disease, neonatal care, infertility and so on. However, they trip over their egos and can’t pick up the phone to talk to us, despite our open approach.
    So yes, I believe telemedicine has its place. If they are OK with it in humans, why not our veterinary patients?

  4. I like the idea of Tele- Veterinary Medicine and to some extend I already practice it, mainly with old time clients that live in distant locations where I had practice before semi retiring and with whom I have had a good, solid profesional relationship and their trust with their newer pets.
    Some of the topics that will be of interest for me to pursue will include:

    1. English/Spanish Veterinary Medical Interpretation and translation services.

    2.Case consultation on Integrative Veterinary Medical care and nutrition.

    3.Wellness advise for their pets.

    4. Hospice care and advise.

    5. How to charge for my services?

  5. In this digital age, I believe the human animal bond is ever more important. This bond extends to veterinary medicine in the form of the VCPR. Closely observing and examining a patient over a lifetime gives priceless information to the clinician and builds trust with the owner. There are just too many instances where the observation of the live animal made all the difference in its diagnosis for me to endorse telemedicine. The smell of a ketotic diabetic, the feel of tacky mucous membranes – those would be missed by telemedicine. Additionally, having the client describe the patients situation second hand is different than a human describing their own personal problems to a physician.
    Let’s watch our footing on this slippery slope.

  6. There is no appropriate use for telemedicine. We give advice over the phone to existing clients about existing problems – end of story. If the veterinarian in question has never seen the animal (and no one in their practice has either) then making recommendations for it (beyond “go to a vet near you”) is foolish at best, malpractice at worst.

  7. Veterinary telemedicine is a solution looking for a problem.We can draw comparisons to human telemedicine but it really is a completely different ballgame.In human medicine there is a need to reduce the workload on MD and ERs and telemedicine makes sense in weeding out the simple and routine problems.Secondly the specialization in human medicine means that the telemedicine services can be targetted and limited in their scope and the compensation for these services by insurance companies makes them attractive as a way to lower medical care costs.

    In veterinary medicine we potentially have a much broader range of potential problems to deal with and we have to be very careful we dont weaken the VCPR. The licensing and state to state board differences make telemedicine a potential minefield to legislate.Would it be OK to have a vet answer a question for a patient in a state he/she isnt licensed? is something goes wrong with a telemedicine consult and the patient dies due to bad advice or the owner not following advice where does the liability lie? Would it be OK for a telemedicine vet to interpret blood reports, review radiographs or comment on cell phone pictures or would that be considered malpractice since there is no way to verify that the tests you are looking at belong to the patient you are discussing. What happens if a client gets a telemedicine review as a second opinion that disagrees with the vet that saw the patient.If that patient does poorly can the telemedicine vet be called as a witness?

    Telemedicine is also a poor way of generating revenue and it potentially can reduce patient visits to veterinary hospitals.Unlike human medicine there is no shortage of veterinary care in most areas and in the “underserved” areas telemedicine cannot in any way replace a veterinary examination.

    Technology is advancing faster than legislation so there is a need to plan for this and I am sure there will be veterinarians wanting to provide this service.We must ensure that a sensible and well thought out approach to this is figured out for the sake of our patients and the next generation of veterinarians.

  8. I firmly believe that telemedicine is opening us up for a huge amount of liability. However teleconsultation is much more appropriate with a primary caregiver directly connected to the patient and being the profesional consulting other profesionals. Teleconsultation though needs to be perhaps more regulated.

    • Anne: My thoughts exactly. The VPCR is absolutely necessary to prevent medical errors and the resulting liability. Teleconsultation has great potential, but only via an established VPCR on the other end as the communicator and medical manager. Telemedicine as a substitute for a primary veterinarian is unethical, and will only harm our patients and our profession!

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