As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, people commonly wonder, “How long will this pandemic last?” And for veterinarians who’ve adopted veterinary telehealth to serve patients and remain operational during the pandemic, the question naturally links to telehealth in that veterinarians may be wondering how long veterinary telehealth will remain a necessity.
According to Dr. Scott Weese, infectious disease expert at the Ontario Veterinary College, veterinary telehealth could remain a necessity for a while.
As Dr. Weese writes on May 6th, 2020 on his Worms & Germs blog, “We’re nowhere near the end of this pandemic, and one concern we have is opening things up too quickly and losing the benefits of all the sacrifices that have been made to flatten the curve.” Even as restrictions begin to ease, Dr. Weese adds, “We’re not going straight from now to normal. We’ll have to continue with good physical distancing practices for the foreseeable future.”
Dr. Weese isn’t alone in his views of COVID-19 and physical distancing.
As touched on in our last telehealth blog, Telehealth: The Big Challenge Faced by Veterinarians Trying to Adapt: Live Science ran a story on April 23rd, 2020 in which CDC Director Robert Redfield said, “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.”
Similarly, CNN ran a story on May 2nd, 2020 with the headline, “Another wave of coronavirus will likely hit the U.S. in the fall. Here’s why and what we can do to stop it.” And on May 14th, 2020, Dr. Rick Bright gave a sobering prediction. Speaking before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Bright said the U.S. faces “the darkest winter” unless leaders acted decisively to prevent a rebound of COVID-19.
Predictions, of course, are speculative. As such, predictions of a second COVID-19 wave have their critics and can even sound alarmist. Yet predictions count as precautions, just as physical distancing counts as precaution. And in lieu of a COVID-19 vaccine (which may be ready by mid- to late 2021, according to experts), there are indicators that support Dr. Weese’s belief that physical distancing may continue.
An April, 2020 modeling study by Harvard epidemiologists (published in the journal Science) led researchers to conclude, “Prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022” given their projection that “recurrent wintertime outbreaks of [COVID-19] will probably occur.” While U.S. President Donald Trump recently said that physical distancing won’t be extended, both Germany and South Korea recently saw a surge of COVID-19 cases after easing restrictions, and the WHO said on May 11th, 2020 that “extreme vigilance” was needed as countries begin exit from lockdowns.
Whether the research speaks to you about a second COVID-19 wave as possibility or probability, one thing is certain.
Veterinary telehealth is helping veterinary practices right now to triage, diagnose and treat pets and blunt the economic impact of COVID-19. And should a second COVID-19 wave strike in the fall and winter to make physical distancing a long-term part of the new normal, then taking the time today to put a complete veterinary telehealth solution in place for your practice is simply good planning to avoid the risks of scrambling at the last minute for some solution that may not meet your practice needs.
To help practices avoid this, we recently collaborated with Petriage to add their state-of-the-art veterinary telehealth platform to our suite of industry-leading Practice Solutions.
Reflecting our core commitment to provide practices with the tools they need to optimize their operations while adapting to changing protocols, Petriage provides a unique software platform (developed by a veterinarian) by which your clients can use the Petriage online Symptom Checker tool to assess the urgency of their pets’ symptoms and, when applicable, provide clients the opportunity to request online consultations remotely.
Offering three incremental service levels (teletriage, telemonitoring, and telemedicine) to fit the needs and budget of any practice, Petriage has read and writeback capabilities to automatically sync data from all three levels to practice management system medical records. Petriage currently integrates with Cornerstone, AVImark, ImproMed, eVetPractice, and IntraVet (the latter does not have writeback).
There are no setup fees for Petriage, which provides for unlimited staff users and unlimited consultations, and you can be up and running in as little as one week.
Book your free Petriage demo today