It’s the first morning of the AVMA Convention and already there is big news. Seeking to enhance and expand patient care through wider use of telehealth in veterinary medicine, a group of leading professional and industry organizations today announced the formation of the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care. 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.
“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,” Dr. Jose Arce, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), said in sharing news about the Coalition during the AVMA’s annual Convention, held this year in Philadelphia.
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 Dr. Arce. He emphasized that before telehealth is used, an in-person veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) needs to be established.
“As strong advocates of animal care and wellbeing through professional and quality veterinary services, Merck Animal Health is proud to support the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care,” said Scott Bormann, sr. vice president, Merck Animal Health. “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. When paired with the proper in-person examinations and client relationships, the result will be healthier animals, a more efficient veterinary staff and an all-inclusive approach to support continuity of patient care.”
“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,” noted Dr. Link Welborn, Chief Executive Officer of the Veterinary Study Groups, another founding member of the Coalition. “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:
- 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 as founders of the Coalition, other members to date include:
American Veterinary Medical Association
American Association of Avian Pathologists
American Association of Bovine Practitioners
American Association of Equine Practitioners
American Association of Swine Veterinarians
National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
State Veterinary Medical Associations including:
Alaska Veterinary Medical Association
Florida Veterinary Medical Association
Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association
Iowa Veterinary Medical Association
Michigan Veterinary Medical Association
Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association
Missouri Veterinary Medical Association
Nevada Veterinary Medical Association
North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association
North Dakota Veterinary Medical Association
Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association
South Carolina Association of Veterinarians
Texas Veterinary Medical Association
Vermont Veterinary Medical Association
Virginia Veterinary Medical Association
Washington State Veterinary Medical Association
Veterinary Study Groups
American Heartworm Society
Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association
National Veterinary Associates
Animal Health Industry
Animal Health Institute
Merck Animal Health
Midwest Veterinary Supply
To learn more about the Coalition, its growing membership, and the resources available for veterinary professionals, please visit avma.org/connectedcare. Those interested in joining the Coalition should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: AVMA press release