Veterinarians often ask us if it’s legal to offer telehealth in their practice. The short answer is ‘yes’ if you are offering virtual care with a valid VCPR in place.

Many practices are familiar with providing veterinary advice and follow-up care to existing clients in email, phone and even via text – but you will also need to consider the nature of care you are offering, privacy concerns and specific state or local laws before offering a formal telehealth program.

Compliant Virtual Veterinary Care

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends and many states require that a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) already exist before a vet can diagnose, treat or prescribe medicine for a patient using telehealth. If no VCPR is in place, a veterinarian is allowed to offer general advice (not specific to the animal) or triage services.

In addition, all patient and client information transmitted must follow requirements for privacy and confidentiality that an in-office visit would.

What Constitutes a VCPR?

For small animals, you must see the patient in person to establish a VCPR. Otherwise, the AVMA classifies a visit to be VCPR-compliant when the veterinarian knows the patient well enough to make proper medical judgments that will allow him/her to assume responsibility for the animal’s health, and with the client’s acknowledgement. Learn more about AVMA’s guidance here.

States may also vary in their definitions of a VCPR, so be sure to consult your state’s veterinary licensing board for more information.

As a veterinarian, you can absolutely offer telehealth services to your clients and patients and leave behind less secure communication like email and text messages. Direct Health is already used by hundreds of practitioners, enabling them to provide VCPR-compliant, secure telehealth. The mobile app even allows you to convert email and phone advice into a billable opportunity by inviting those clients to communicate with you in Direct Health.

Ready to start offering billable telehealth in your practice? Download Direct Health today for iOS/Android or create an account on desktop.

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