AVMA, AAVMC and AAVSB agree on telehealth statement

The AVMA, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), and American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) want to ensure that new technologies are deployed in veterinary medicine in ways that best support patient health and well-being.

For this reason, all three organizations have indicated their support of a joint statement recognizing the opportunities offered by veterinary telehealth and telemedicine, while placing the focus firmly on delivery of top-quality medical care for animal patients.

Telemedicine_Blog-600x200The statement was drafted by the AVMA/AAVMC Joint Committee, and the AAVSB issued a memo supporting it. The statement reads:

Telehealth can provide valuable tools to augment the delivery and availability of high quality veterinary care. According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, “Telehealth encompasses a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services. Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery.” Veterinarians need to utilize emerging technologies to enhance accessibility and client communication, while promoting the responsible provision of high-quality veterinary medical care. Both AVMA and AAVMC are committed to continue their collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders to promote access to the convenience and benefits of telehealth, while providing information to the veterinary community about the development of applications and other technologies that help connect veterinarians with clients.

“As the veterinary profession’s ‘umbrella’ organization, the AVMA understands that collaboration with veterinary regulatory/licensing boards and veterinary medical colleges is essential to help veterinarians take full advantage of new technologies in ways that best support the health and well-being of their patients,” said AVMA’s president, Dr. Mike Topper.

AVMA policy guides veterinary telemedicine

The AVMA approved a new policy in July providing guidance for veterinarians who wish to offer telehealth services and use telemedicine tools. Part of a broad range of telemedicine resources the AVMA is developing for veterinarians, the policy grew out of the efforts of the AVMA Practice Advisory Panel’s Telehealth Subcommittee, which also drafted a 42-page report on telemedicine.

The policy embraces the opportunities presented by telehealth, and encourages the development of electronic tools and technologies that can advance veterinary medicine, while continuing to recognize the importance of ensuring that a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship exists. It says in part: “Given the current state of technological capabilities, available research, and the current state and federal regulatory landscape, the AVMA believes that veterinary telemedicine should only be conducted within an existing Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR), with the exception for advice given in an emergency until that patient can be seen by a veterinarian.”

Coming next year: Telemedicine toolkit

Guided by the concerns we’ve heard from member veterinarians, the AVMA also is creating a practical toolkit that will provide a broad range of resources to support veterinarians in implementing telemedicine in practice. Planned for release over the course of 2018, the kit will cover topics such as:

  • What telehealth and telemedicine are, and how they can be used in veterinary medicine
  • Steps to implement telemedicine in veterinary practice
  • Complying with the VCPR in the context of telemedicine
  • Understanding and evaluating telemedicine service models

Expect to find case studies, definitions and other resources that will help you understand telemedicine and incorporate it into your practice.

One thought on “AVMA, AAVMC and AAVSB agree on telehealth statement

  1. I appreciate the task force’s role in protecting patient health, the profession, assuring a strong client patient relationship, and helping to determine a means to distribute sound medical care to underserved areas and patients. Nursing and medicine have successfully navigated telemedicine for several years and it is heartening to see our profession move forward. Unfortunately, the task force seems to have ignored advice from expert specialty boards on how best to deliver distance consultation due to a lack of understanding of how certain specialties are delivered or a desire to develop a one-size- fits-all policy. The new policy now worsens patient care and reduce patient access to quality veterinary care in key specialties areas where services are often provided by consultative services through a primary care provider (PCP) with a valid patient client relationship (e.g. behavior, nutrition, etc.). The inability of a consulting specialist to communicate directly with the PCP’s client to gain detailed and accurate information relative to the specialists concerns (after gaining consulting info from primary vet) presumes every veterinarian possess the level of knowledge, background, thought process and consulting capacity of all specialties when conducting a history or follow-up. Or, task force members have never played the game of operator, which demonstrates how information can change or be omitted when delivered from one person to the next. Clear, accurate, and complete information from both the primary care veterinarian and the client is required for a quality consultation. Cutting any part of the health care team out of a client conversation, especially a consulting specialty doctor who has not had the benefit of conducting a physical exam, is never good medicine – this is communication practice 101. This is so very disappointing. I hope the AVMA and ABVS will reconsider this portion of the policy while the consumer and primary care veterinarian will object to having their paid consult cut out of the client conversation.