© 2023 MJH Life Sciences™ and dvm360 | Veterinary News, Veterinarian Insights, Medicine, Pet Care. All rights reserved.
The foundation of building virtual care into your practice
Christina Tran, DVM explained the basics of veterinary virtual care for beginners looking to incorporate it into their practice
Adopting virtual care into your veterinary practice can seem daunting. To address this concern, Christina Tran, DVM broke down the fundamental aspects of veterinary virtual care in her session, “Veterinary Virtual Care 101”1 at the Fetch dvm360® Conference in San Diego, California. Tran explored virtual care terminology, the options available, and some examples of how virtual appointments can be more beneficial than in-person ones.
Tran received her veterinary degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and spent the majority of her professional career in small animal private practice as a full-time associate, relief veterinarian, and house-call practice owner. In addition, Tran has worked in shelter medicine and academia. Currently, she serves on the faculty at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine as an associate professor and clinical relations lead veterinarian.
Speaking on her background, Tran stated, “I was, for the last 4 years, part-time doing veterinary telehealth consulting with a major provider. [So] a lot of experiences that I have personally with the use of virtual care within veterinary medicine [come from that]. But I also serve on the board of directors for Veterinary Virtual Care Association (VVCA). And so that has offered me a broader, industrywide look at what's happening with virtual care across the United States.”
The basics of veterinary virtual care
She started off by posing the question: what is veterinary virtual care? From there, Tran demonstrated how most veterinary practices are already doing some form of virtual care currently, often without even realizing it. She said, “It's all the times that you're interacting remotely with a client. So, that includes hopping on the phone with them, that includes texting them, that includes the other things like video chat, as well. So, I would argue that, unless you're not using a phone in your practice, you're probably already doing some version of virtual care. Which is great, right? Because now it's not that big of a jump to do more virtual care.”
Tran explained that a lot of the pushback for telehealth is the inability to perform physical exams for diagnoses. While that is true, she argued that telehealth can filter out cases that do not require a physical exam and can be resolved virtually. She said, “telehealth is a way to kind of prioritize those appointments, [and] decide what [cases] need to come in.” Tran has seen cases in practice in which clients expressed concerns for something that could have easily been explained over the phone rather than in-person. One example of this, Tran said, is that she would often get clients raising concerns about their dog “seizing.” However, after asking some clarifying questions, Tran concluded that the dog was just having some active dreaming. Resolving this with the client virtually saved time for both parties.
Tran concluded her presentation by stating, “While there is ongoing demand and opportunity for virtual care within veterinary medicine, it's super important that we continue to advocate for change…So hopefully, this session gave you a little bit of food for thought and inspires you to maybe implement veterinary virtual care in your practices.”
Tran, C. Veterinary virtual care 101. Presented at: Fetch dvm360® Conference; San Diego, California. December 2-4, 2022.