Why we are offering virtual care at Westerville Veterinary Clinic (The decision was difficult)
- It is well known that virtual care in human medicine has been around for more than 25 years, and has become increasingly popular.
- Veterinarians have been slower to adopt virtual visits because our patients very often need vaccines or other basics that cannot be offered over the internet. In addition, we are concerned that subtle changes, such as an enlarged lymph node or heart murmur may be missed without the aid of hands-on examinations. Our patients will not tell us these things!
- We truly would not enjoy our jobs if we could never directly interact with pets on a daily basis. There is nothing in this world that can replace the joys and challenges of bonding with a pet. This applies to the “happy about all things in life!” puppies and kittens, the “I’m old, white faced, and tired.” geriatric patients, and the “I’m completely ungrateful!” patients who have anxiety or fear issues.
- Citing the above thought processes, we have weighed the pros and cons of virtual care, and have elected to offer it in select, non-emergent situations; the same way our physician counterparts do. But not for every visit. People with urgent health concerns go to the hospital instead of a virtual visit. Likewise, we expect our pets with urgent concerns to come in for a hands on evaluation.
- We believe that a large number of virtual care visits will mirror similar experiences in human medicine. As an example, a physician often orders lab work and the patient drives to a lab to have blood drawn at their convenience. This can certainly be the case at Westerville Veterinary Clinic.
- We want to make this new alternative technology worth it for you and your pets! An obstacle found in all variants of medicine is a longer waiting time. Whether it is the dentist, the physician, or the urgent care waiting room, a long wait is almost expected. This can happen at Westerville Veterinary Clinic, but our virtual visit option is being tailored to prevent it as much as possible.
- Here is a brief description of some of the most common delays that lead to increased waiting times and how virtual care will help alleviate it:
- Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork!
Paperwork, such as estimates and prescription labels, along with patient medical logging must be done during the visit. The goal of a virtual care visit is to have everything prepared before you arrive for labs, vaccines, whatever your pet may need.
- Staff members are tied up with the unexpected.
The unexpected is a frequent phenomenon in our field. We have set aside blocks of time for technicians to ONLY address the prescribed treatment or medications from our virtual visit clients. We cannot understate the potential impact of this. We often have nail trims, therapy lasers, ear cleanings, a cat that disagrees with our desire to draw blood from it, and several other things going on at once. And they do at times, take much more time than we expected them to.
- Emotional pain with no time to recover:
These things happen. A patient of ours succumbs to a disease process or is humanely euthanized. It does not matter in any way… how many times we see it… or rationalize that it is the course of nature. It takes a toll. Our client’s tears take their toll… We may need to step outside for fresh air, or have a snack, or call someone close to us to continue through our day. We will do our best to schedule the gut wrenching visits on the opposite end of the day of virtual care follow ups.
- Walk in emergencies.
The one we cannot always get around. Some emergencies truly require us to drop everything we are doing to tend to it. An active seizure or hit by car comes to mind.
If you wish to try a virtual visit with us, download the app, PetDesk and Select Westerville Veterinary Clinic. Within the app, go to appointments, and click Request Appointment. Select reason, then scroll down to the bottom to select Video Chat.
We are excited to hear your feedback after giving it a try! If we find that some clients are happy to have this option, it will not go away.
It has truly been a privilege to be able to continue to treat your pets during this difficult time.
Damian Giancola, DVM
Westerville Veterinary Clinic.