50% of vets do not see telemedicine playing ‘any significant role as part of clinical veterinary practice, a new survey has highlighted, writes farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane.
The publication, Veterinary Practice Survey 2023 from HLB Ireland, outlines how some veterinary professionals believe technology “cannot replace the human touch”, while others are utilising services such as WhatsApp for triage.
In the survey, 33% of participants said they see telemedicine as a growing part of their own clinic’s daily workload, just like any other stream of appointments.
Meanwhile, 9% view telemedicine as a threat, with other businesses trying to take business via telemedicine, while a further 8% answered other.
The report acknowledged that advances in technology will increasingly impact the veterinary sector by streamlining operational processes and enhancing clinical services.
In the survey, some 6% of participants stated that they feel technology offers the biggest opportunities ahead for the veterinary sector in Ireland.
Last year, That’s Farming published an article on findings from research – commissioned by the VCI – on veterinary telemedicine.
According to the body, the consultation’s aim was to ensure that its provisions on veterinary telemedicine are “in line with best practice”.
It stated that the results would later inform its revised Code of Conduct for Veterinary Practitioners and Nurses.
It issued three separate studies to veterinary practitioners, veterinary nurses and stakeholders (including the general public).
35% of vets said that there is an “increasing role” for veterinary telemedicine (use of telemedicine in delivering care and treatment to animals) in providing veterinary services.
43% of stakeholders were of the same view, as were 35% of veterinary nurses.
Furthermore, 92% of vets are of the opinion that knowledge of the animals’ environment, husbandry conditions, diet, and veterinary medical history are important in determining diagnosis and treatment for an animal or herd or flock.
94% also agreed, as did 86% of stakeholders that participated in the survey.
The body also asked respondents if they believe that a physical inspection of animals or animal products destined for the food chain should be required to allow a veterinary practitioner to certify the animal’s condition.
90% of vets answered ‘yes’, as did 88% of vet nurses and 62% of stakeholders.
The VCI asked respondents to declare what level of confidence they would have in their own delivery of veterinary services using remote technologies for the following areas: Triage/initial assessment of animal/herd (allowing for urgency of referral to be assessed).
68% of vets said they “would feel confident”, as did 71% of vet nurses and 62% of stakeholders.
As part of the consultation, participants expressed what level of confidence they would have in their delivery of veterinary services using remote technologies for the following areas to prescribe prescription-only medicines or products based on the use of remote technologies.
23% of vets said they would be, as did 23% of vet nurses and 34% of stakeholders.
Furthermore, the survey also shed light on AMR, with 65% of vets declaring that they believe veterinary telemedicine use could potentially lead to an increase.