Utilizing Veterinary Technicians for Telemedicine Rechecks

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Veterinary technicians are a highly skilled asset to any hospital or clinic setting. Their education and expertise can be utilized in many ways through tele-triage, virtual rechecks, and telecommunication with clients. These communications can occur through live video or asynchronous chat. New wearable devices for dogs and cats can also aid in tele-recheck appointments. Emerging technology is discovering ways to measure pet temperature, pulse, respiration, activity, and even eating and drinking patterns.

 

Recheck Categories

Post-surgical

  • The technician to assess incision health and healing, and overall patient wellbeing
  • Evaluate incision for signs of infection, delayed healing, excess bleeding, discharge

Musculoskeletal and lameness

  • Has the lameness improved?
  • Is the client compliant with treatment?
  • Is the patient’s pain being managed?

Dermatological

  • Have the lesions improved, stayed the same, or worsened?
  • Is the patient more comfortable, and less itchy?

Gastrointestinal

  • Has the vomiting/diarrhea improved?
  • Any appetite changes?
  • Is the patient drinking appropriately?
  • Is the patient taking medications well?
  • Has the energy level changed?

Behavioral

  • Any improvement of symptoms, or no change, or worsened?

Rehabilitation

  • Any improvement of symptoms, no change, or worsened?
  • Client compliance- are recommended exercises being performed properly?
  • Assess the overall disposition of the pet

Urinary

  • How is the color of the urine?
  • Is there an improvement in the frequency of urination?
  • Any straining to urinate, licking of genitals, or other symptoms?

Reproductive (Post-birth)

  • How is the mother?
    • Lactating, eating, drinking, lochia
  • Are neonates nursing appropriately?
  • Is the umbilicus appearance normal?

 

Patient pictures, videos, and info from wearable devices can be imported at the technician's tele-recheck appointment. Once the technician has collected information about the patient, they may decide that no veterinary care is needed further (like for simple spay/neuter rechecks with no concerns) or this information can be relayed to the veterinarian for potential diagnosis, treatment modification, and further recheck appointments or more intensive care.

 

Specialty veterinary practices can also benefit from virtual technician rechecks. Oncology, dermatology, internal medicine, surgery, cardiology, and behavior veterinary specialties can utilize their skilled vet technicians to track patient progress, answer pet parent questions, and provide valuable client and patient information to the veterinarian to ensure high-quality patient care.

 

 

Real-World Scenario

Patient

 

Pet: Sadie

 

Signalment: 7lb, 5yo, FS Yorkie Poo

 

Medical History: Chronic IBD and acute pancreatitis

Sadie was recently discharged after 5 days of hospitalization for acute pancreatitis. She was sent home with oral medications and prescription food.

 

Scenario A

Sadie is scheduled for a recheck exam 1 week after discharge. Despite a hectic day in the clinic, your receptionist was able to call Sadie’s owner the night prior to the appointment as a reminder. A voicemail was left.

 

The next day, Sadie no-shows for her recheck. The vacancy on the appointment schedule could have been filled with another sick patient and Sadie is not receiving the care that she needs.

 

Sadie’s owner calls 2 days later saying that she is no better and is vomiting again. It is recommended that Sadie be brought back in for re-evaluation, but the owner declines. She claims she will not spend any more money in the clinic since Sadie was not treated appropriately. Sadie’s owner also does not have time to bring her back in.

 

After suffering through the client’s barrage of complaints, it comes to light that she did not give Sadie any of her oral medications because Sadie did not like them. Despite your best efforts, the owner is angry, the patient is sick, and you are tired.

 

The client will be seeking services elsewhere and has now left a scathing review online. Sigh.

 

Scenario B: Anipanion Telehealth

While Sadie was in the hospital, her owner was set up with Anipanion for easier communication. Through Anipanion’s chat feature, the client was able to have questions answered, updates sent, and pictures taken of Sadie while in hospital. Owners love pictures.

 

The following day after Sadie’s discharge, a text is sent to her owner from your technician inquiring about any new or worsening symptoms and if Said is taking her meds well. The client mentions that Sadie does not like her oral meds, but your tech gives her some helpful advice to make pilling Sadie easier. (Hide her meds in an I/D meatball). Sadie’s owner is delighted that Sadie now eats her medication this way.

 

1 week later, your technician schedules a video session to follow up on Sadie’s progress.

 

Sadie is back to normal and is not experiencing any gastrointestinal symptoms. Her energy is up and seems like a puppy again.

 

You schedule Sadie to come back in 1 month for an in-hospital recheck exam and to update her vaccinations. She is instructed to stay on the prescription diet and is given symptoms to monitor indicating pancreatitis may be occurring again.

 

Saide’s owner is so pleased with your hospital and the care Sadie received that she loads your break room with sweets and sings your praises with a lovely online review. Awesome.

 

 

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