18 Jan Telehealth and the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship
An Update from the AVMA House of Delegates
Representing Pennsylvania: Dr. Christina Dougherty and Dr. Kate Boatright
The latest update from the AVMA’s House of Delegates (HOD) delves into the critical intersection of Telehealth and the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). Highlighting the potential benefits of telehealth in veterinary practices, the document introduces concepts such as teleadvice for basic queries and teletriage for urgent cases without requiring a VCPR. However, it strongly emphasizes the indispensable role of an in-person visit in establishing a comprehensive VCPR, crucial for informed diagnoses and tailored treatment plans.
The document outlines the inherent differences between human and veterinary medicine, debunking comparisons and underscoring the unique challenges in animal healthcare. It stresses the risks associated with eliminating the in-person visit requirement, including delayed diagnoses, inappropriate drug use, and public health concerns. Furthermore, the AVMA argues against a virtual VCPR as a solution to access issues, advocating for mobile veterinary services for both access and quality of care.
A significant focus is placed on the potential pitfalls of telemedicine, warning against overprescribing, emergence of “pill mills,” and the ensuing increase in complaints and liability. The AVMA asserts that a virtual VCPR poses enforcement challenges, leading to health and welfare risks for animals and limited recourse for clients.
In conclusion, the document advocates for a balanced approach, prioritizing relationships over technology. The Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care, led by the AVMA, stands as a collaborative effort to responsibly integrate telehealth tools into veterinary practices while maintaining the importance of establishing a VCPR in-person. For a comprehensive understanding of the issues and recommendations, please read the full text, linked below.