Keeping an Eye on Virtual Care Trends (Originally Published In Vet Trends)

Many thanks to the Vet Times for permission to share the letter

Dear Editor,

Congratulations on the article on vettims.co.uk, published on 7 August, entitled “Confusion as further RCVS under care guidance changes planned“.

The Virtual Veterinary Care Association (VVCA) is a global, non-profit association dedicated to developing best practices for delivering integrated virtual care for animals, defining quality standards and protocols for practicing virtual care, sharing experiences among practice teams, engaging with virtual care providers, and advocating for policies in support of quality virtual care. It comprises a global group of veterinary professionals focused on championing best practices in telehealth from a clinical viewpoint and delivery mechanisms, including a European affiliate committee comprising several MRCVS.
“Under care” is a complex concept both in theory and application. Veterinary professionals in the UK now have a fascinating opportunity to embrace the new guidance, promoting best practices in remote care. Telehealth – particularly telemedicine – is now a part of the veterinary landscape and not only provides a service to animal owners but improves the delivery of animal welfare to patients. It is primarily complementary to physical practices and, with the correct direction and application, will be a significant asset for the veterinary profession. The VVCA is leading the way on these developments across the globe.
Many countries and organisations have defined remote care provision; for example, the US, the Republic of Ireland, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe. Australia is, in some ways, leading the way in the concept of telehealth delivery, more from the point of view of the tyranny of distance that has been a major challenge for many years. Virtual veterinary care is a vital service to those people in isolated communities.
Although the new under care guidance from the RCVS does not define a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) in the same way as this is defined in the US, this is what it is effectively trying to build.
Organisations that deliver telehealth, whether it is an individual practice providing virtual assistance to its current clients or a standalone veterinary service providing triage across nations, must ensure that decision-making for animal health and welfare remains firmly in the hands of veterinary professionals.
The VVCA calls on all members of the veterinary profession to engage in discussion and support the ongoing development and integration of veterinary virtual care, and looks forward to supporting the profession on this matter.
This autumn, the VVCA, in partnership with UK-based The Webinar Vet, organized a four-part digital series dedicated to examining the current trends in the veterinary virtual care sector. The event is currently ongoing, and involves international experts and speakers who will equip attendees with the skills and knowledge necessary to confidently participate in virtual care in their respective regions.

Yours faithfully,
GRAYSEN GILBRAITH BIENSCH, executive director, VVCA, VVCA European committee, JESSICA MAY (chairperson), LIZ BARTON, WOLFGANG DONE, PETE WEDDERBURN, PETER HIGGINS, CAROLINE JANGDAL and MOGENS BRIX

Another story about the VVCA from Vet Times – Virtual Veterinary Care Association comes to Europe with launch session at LVS