Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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9 December 2017/January 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Telemedicine in Human Medicine Telemedicine has become standard medical practice and has reached the point that it is being integrated into human hospitals, emergency rooms, private physician practices, specialty practices, patient's homes, rural areas, workplaces, schools and disaster response efforts. In addi- tion, programs are being developed to utilize telemedicine to address rural health and underserved pop- ulations, resulting in coordinated patient care with an interprofes- sional approach. Not only do these programs reach more people need- ing care at a faster pace, but they increase physician utilization. Telemedicine has transformed in-school care, allowing students, faculty and staff immediate access to needed medical care. This in-school care has been shown to increase attendance and decrease workday interruptions of working parents. The majority of employers are on board with the addition of telehealth services in their benefits packages. Today, it is possible to provide integrated health care delivery across an entire health care system and between systems. With tele- medicine, health care professionals can reach patients remotely to evaluate, diagnose and treat using telecommunication technology; conversely, patients can reach their health care providers remotely. It can increase patient access, expand the reach of health care and extend coverage around the clock. Being substantially less expen- sive than office visits and urgent care, telemedicine saves time and money, while providing care to more people. Telemedicine trans- forms patient engagement. Patients have expressed high acceptance of and enthusiasm for telemedicine, with some surveys demonstrating 90 to 100 percent positive feed- back from patients. Many patients have expressed their willingness to switch doctors to get video visits as part of their health care. There are benefits for providers as well. Physi- cians have stated that telemedicine saves time, creates more free time, improves their efficiency and even prevents physician burnout. Licensing issues have de- terred telemedicine over time. Questions raised have included the physician-patient relationship, remote versus in-person examina- tions, state licensure and prescrib- ing medications. Recent legislation made history as the 50th state passed legislation expanding the use of telemedicine in human health care. The May 16, 2017, headline in Health Care Law Today read, "'Lone Star' Joins the Rest of the Nation as Texas Passes New Telemedicine Law." This bill allows Texas-licensed physicians, or health professionals acting under their supervision or delegation, to provide Business INNOVATION STATION Veterinary medicine has the distinct advantage of being able to observe trends, discoveries and new methods of health care delivery in human health care, and the reverse is also true. There are lessons to be learned from telemedicine in human health care, and veterinary medicine is uniquely positioned to benefit substantially from advances in human telemedicine, while avoiding re-creating the wheel. This poses important questions. Are we, in veterinary medicine, taking full advantage of these opportunities? More importantly, are we leading? By Eleanor M. Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP The profession must steer efforts to adapt digital tools to pet health care. Failure to do so will see clients choose pioneering practitioners. The standard for a physician providing care by way of telemedicine should be and is the same as that for in-person care. Veterinary telemedicine: Are we leading?

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