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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10 Today's Veterinary Business Business medical services by telemedicine at a different location than the health professional. It specifically allows physicians to use telemedicine to establish a valid physician-patient relationship without the requirement for an in-person examination. The physician may establish a physi- cian-patient relationship and provide health care services by way of synchronous audiovisual interaction, asynchronous store and forward technology, and other telecommuni- cation technologies that comply with the standard of care. The standard for a physician providing care by way of telemedicine should be and is the same as that for in-person care. Additionally, the new law prohibits a health plan from excluding care provided via telemedicine simply because it is not in-person care. Participation in telemedicine was slow at first. There are many reasons for this delay in uptake. The desire to implement telemedicine practices precedes the ideal tech- nologies, communication platforms, software, data access, apps, business models and other tools. There is a learning curve, a time commitment and competing priorities in chang- ing from traditional office visits to telemedicine services. Many physi- cians may not fully understand the potential clinical uses of telemedi- cine and may not envision how tele- medicine services would fit into their daily schedules. Patient acceptance is essential, and patients may not be aware of telemed- icine options or of their advantages. Telemedi- cine continues its upward growth; in fact, it has become a multibillion-dollar industry. The market value of telehealth is projected to reach more than $36 billion by 2020. With the majority of patients express- ing interest in telehealth services, 83 percent of hospital executives plan to invest in telehealth systems and services to outpace compe- tition and broaden market reach. The state of telemedicine today is positive, as demonstrated by physi- cian involvement, growing patient interest, best practices, viable tools, increased acceptance within health plans and favorable legislation. The future of telemedicine is bright. It will evolve, exponential- ly at times. There is a clear trend toward real-time monitoring, reporting and analyzing. Digital labor will enable real-time monitor- ing without human intervention, such as with robotics and cognitive computing. Connected clinics are expanding to connected systems. Twenty-four-hour care will be achievable with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Virtual practices will mirror brick-and- mortar practices. New online-only practices will increase in number and acceptance. Central to all efforts is personalized patient care with an experiential foun- dation. Veterinary Telemedicine Discussions and lively debates about veterinary telemedicine are being held with increasing fre- quency. Entire sections at veteri- nary continuing education meet- ings are devoted to telemedicine. The North American Veterinary Community's Veterinary Innovation Council identified telemedicine as its first significant area to explore. The American Veterinary Medical Association charged its Practice Ad- visory Council with reviewing tele- medicine and making recommen- dations, the result of which was the AVMA telemedicine report. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards is strongly considering veterinary telemedicine and the appropriate laws surrounding it. The fact is, veterinary telemed- icine is not new and its future is bright. Phone calls, email, text mes- saging, instant messaging, picture messaging, video messaging and live video conferencing all consti- tute telemedicine. Most veterinari- ans employ some of these tools. As in human medicine, telemedicine will expand as more digital tools are developed. Wearable devices and remote sensors will expand, and are already expanding, well beyond activity monitoring. The current landscape of veteri- nary telemedicine indicates a gap between what veterinarians offer and what clients want. Veterinary business specialist Ed Blach, DVM, MBA, reports that: • 40 percent of veterinarians do not answer client questions by phone. They instead ask clients to come in to the clinic. • 70 percent of veterinarians believe that technologies can strengthen the veterinari- an-client relationship. • 70 percent of veterinarians are unlikely to offer any telehealth service in the near future. • 85 percent of pet owners find that the connection to a veterinarian via telehealth is appealing. If We Don't Embrace Veterinary Telemedicine ... Animal owners still regard vet- erinarians as the animal health experts and the most trusted source for animal information. As they become increasingly aware of the benefits of telemedicine from their family physician, they likely will find it a necessity for their animal health care as well. They will become aware at a staggering rate. The 2017 KPMG Digital Health Pulse 2017/HIMSS Analytics study showed that 75 percent of medical practitioners are employing digital or telemedicine care services. This is greater than 100 percent growth since 2014, when the use rate was 33 percent. Business INNOVATION STATION Telemedicine is nothing more than adapting to pet health care the digital tools we use everywhere.

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