Veterinarian Dr. Aaron Smiley made a game-changing discovery eighteen months ago. That was when he found mobile telemedicine using Direct Health (now called Direct Health). In the August edition of American Veterinarian, Dr. Smiley details how he has completely transformed the success of his practice by adopting veterinary telemedicine and how other vets can get started.
New Technology, New Ways of Thinking
As chief of staff of two busy practices, Dr. Smiley looks for ways to satisfy clients, while being as effective as possible as a vet. A couple of years ago, he began to notice a spike in the number of clients reaching out to him by text or on Facebook between regular visits. The value of being accessible to clients on their smartphones was quickly becoming apparent and the easy-to-use, secure Direct Health app was just what Dr. Smiley was looking for.
By allowing clients to reach him when questions come up, veterinarians like Dr. Smiley can turn stressful situations around and build stronger relationships with their clients. They can also be more attuned to their patient’s health by seeing them more often and in their home environments.
“I know firsthand that being accessible to clients at all hours to answer questions is one of the quickest ways to convert customers into enthusiastic advocates for the practice,” Dr. Smiley writes in American Veterinarian.
And, even though it may seem counter-intuitive, Dr. Smiley manages to free up more in-office time, since he can handle follow-up, check-ins and even prescriptions virtually.
Picking the Right Veterinary Telemedicine App
While texting and Facebook were Dr. Smiley’s inroads to telemedicine, they have serious downsides. These include a lack of safety surrounding patient data and unclear lines around services and payment to name just a few. Dr. Smiley recommends choosing a trusted telemedicine app that takes the following concerns into mind:
- Legality – Choose an app that lets you connect with pet owners with whom you have a veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR). Most states require a valid VCPR before veterinarians can provide services.
- Security – Patient privacy is imperative, so an app should be HIPAA compliant.
- Payment – Find an app that takes care of billing, so you and your staff don’t have to.
- Accessibility – Make sure the app you choose has an offline mode, so you can select when you’re available and unavailable for consults.
Additionally, vets should look for an app that is available on both your smartphone and computer, that has a dedicated support team to answer your questions and has text, call and media sharing capabilities.
Learn how you can get started with veterinary telemedicine in our interview with Dr. Smiley.