Telehealth coalition aims to enhance veterinary care

Founded jointly by AVMA, Veterinary Study Groups, and Merck, the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care has 30-plus members

Founded by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Veterinary Study Groups, and Merck Animal Health, the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care will collaborate across the animal health industry to enhance and expand veterinary care by leveraging technology, including virtual care services. Photo ©BigStockPhoto.comEmpowering animal health professionals to expand patient care with telehealth is the primary objective of a new coalition of more than 30 veterinary associations and industry businesses.

Founded by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Veterinary Study Groups, and Merck Animal Health, the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care says it will collaborate across the animal health industry to enhance and expand veterinary care by leveraging technology, including virtual care services.

“Proper use of telehealth holds great potential to improve access to veterinary services, enhance the medical care we provide for our patients, strengthen and support our relationships with our clients, and improve the efficiency of our veterinary healthcare teams and the services we deliver,” says AVMA president, Jose Arce, DVM.

While the use of telehealth (including telemedicine) increased amidst pandemic, adoption of the technology slowed as in-person visits resumed, AVMA reports. As such, many veterinary practices are not taking full advantage of the services available.

The Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care hopes to:

  • build awareness of the opportunities telehealth presents for bettering patient care;
  • provide practical education and tools for veterinary teams across the profession to help integrate a variety of telehealth services; and
  • advocate for regulatory actions that support the use of telehealth.

“The tools, technology, and resources provided to veterinarians through telehealth support and promote ongoing and regular patient care; can help reduce some of the mental stresses being placed on veterinarians due to increased demand for services; and [reduce] the time it takes for a patient to receive veterinary advice and care,” says Merck Animal Heath’s senior vice president, Scott Bormann. “When paired with the proper in-person examinations and client relationships, the result will be healthier animals, a more efficient veterinary staff, and an all-inclusive approach to support continuity of patient care.”

Additionally, the coalition says it will help veterinarians explore and adopt tools of telehealth that:

  • strengthen relationships among practices, clients, and patients;
  • improve continuity in patient care;
  • engage technology to advance care; and
  • enhance practice efficiency and support the well-being of veterinary teams.

The coalition emphasizes that, before telehealth is used, an in-person veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) must be in place.

“Veterinary telemedicine is most effective and safest—for patients, clients, and veterinarians/veterinary practices—when used to maintain a VCPR that has already been established via an in-person examination,” says Veterinary Study Groups’ CEO, Link Welborn, DVM, DABV. “We’ll be looking to coalition members to help develop and share resources that will support veterinarians in seamlessly integrating telehealth into their practices while recognizing the importance of the VCPR.”

In addition to its founding partners, the coalition comprises more than 30 national and state associations, practice groups, and animal health industry members, including:

  • Veterinary Study Groups
  • American Heartworm Society
  • National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
  • Covetrus
  • AmerisourceBergen/MWI
  • Midwest Veterinary Supply
  • Televet

To learn more about the coalition and to see a complete list of its members, click here.

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