Steps to Implement Telemedicine Services in Your Practice

Steps to Implement Telemedicine Services in Your Practice


When implemented properly, telemedicine may improve patient triage and clinical outcomes, and benefit patients, animal owners and the veterinary practice. From improving after-hours or hospice care, to making it easier for busy clients to arrange routine checkups and follow-up care for pets, telemedicine offers opportunities to increase access to and utilization of veterinary care – improving the quality of care for patients. Follow these steps to implement telehealth successfully in your practice.

1. Know the rules

You might already have ideas about how you’d like to incorporate telemedicine into your veterinary practice. Even if that’s the case, it’s critical that you first familiarize yourself with the rules that govern telehealth, including the legal and regulatory landscape. Not only will this help protect you and your patients: it also will ensure you don’t spend valuable time pursuing a program that will not be legal in your locality. Start here:

2. Define your service offering

Once you understand the rules and regulations that apply to telemedicine, you’re ready to decide on the type(s) of services you want to implement. You might consider ways to improve your clients’ experience for after-hours care; improve follow-up care for post-surgical rechecks; or make it easier to check in on patients receiving hospice care. There are myriad options.

3. Check your liability

In most instances there are no additional liability coverage requirements for veterinary practices that offer telehealth or telemedicine services. But it’s wise to check with your professional liability carrier for any additional recommendations pertaining to telehealth services. If you get your liability insurance through AVMA PLIT, you can start on the PLIT website.

4. Evaluate technology and service providers

Different telemedicine services require different types of hardware, software and back-office support. You might be comfortable adding some services on your own and tracking and billing them manually. In fact, some veterinarians offer connected care services using technology that already exists in the practice, such as smartphones. Others use a third-party partner to simplify and expedite the process.

If you are considering partnering with a telehealth service provider to support your offering, it’s important to understand each provider’s capabilities and limitations. These AVMA-exclusive tools can help:

  • Veterinary connected care providers: Download our handy chart to compare offerings of various companies that provide connected care services. (Note: Offerings are evolving quickly during the COVID-19 outbreak, so this information is subject to change.)
  • Evaluation checklist: Use this evaluation template, also available as a Word document, to help assess potential service providers.

5. Train staff, market your new service, and engage clients

As with any new product or service, you need to let both existing and potential new clients know about the new telemedicine services you are offering. Put together a communication plan to get the word out and create excitement!

This will include both marketing externally and training your hospital staff so that every one of your team members understands why, what and how you are offering these services for your clients and patients.

  • Consider developing a script for your healthcare team to use when communicating to clients. For example: “Our doctors are now available whenever you need them, no matter the time of day. Our telehealth services include…”
  • Create marketing materials to advertise and promote your new services, both to existing clients and to others in your community. These can include in-hospital displays, email to all existing clients, digital displays for your practice website, and promotion via your social media channels. Even in-person conversations with friends and colleagues can help you spread the word.