Teletriage Services on Vetster

Teletriage Services on Vetster - Vetster

Veterinarians and pet parents agree that teletriage is a great fit for Vetster. Concerned owners can schedule a Vetster consultation in a timely manner any time they wonder if their pet needs in-person veterinary care. By booking a virtual care appointment from the comfort of home, clients can have their pets seen by a veterinarian and get the information they need to decide what to do next.

One of the most common questions pet parents have is “Does my pet need to go to the vet… and if so, how soon?” By providing teletriage services on Vetster, you’ll improve client access to reliable information from a licensed professional. This is beneficial to patient health and well-being, especially compared to an owner’s independent internet search or plea for opinions on social media.

Did you know, 1 in 5 pet owners will wait on average three weeks before seeking help to see if their pet recovers on their own?! [source Vetster]

Teletriage is a high-value service because of this high client demand, but it’s also beneficial to veterinarians. Offering teletriage is something all veterinarians on our platform can do, whether they’re practicing telemedicine with a valid VCPR or staying in the realm of general information and advice. It’s also beneficial to brick-and-mortar practitioners (whether they provide it themselves or opt to participate in our Vetster for Clinics program) looking to free up their in-clinic phone lines, staff, and appointment slots.

Teletriage 101

Triage is the process of making an initial assessment to determine how urgently the patient needs care.  Veterinarians in brick-and-mortar practices perform triage multiple times every day in order to prioritize patient care. Teletriage is the process of carrying out triage remotely, via phone, instant messaging, or video conferencing. Check out this blog post to learn more veterinary telehealth terms and definitions.

Teletriage isn’t new in veterinary practice. Veterinary receptionists and CSRs take dozens of calls every day from pet parents wondering if their pets need to come in. Handling these calls requires a lot of time, so often CSRs are trained to say, “If you were worried enough to call, then I think you should bring Fluffy in.” Times have changed. With clinics over capacity, teletriage offers an opportunity to improve the situation for veterinarians and pet parents alike.

Clients have questions and want faster access to information to make decisions about their pets’ care.  They are conscientious and observant of changes in their pet’s status, but don’t want to rush into the clinic when it’s not necessary. Veterinarians are often overbooked and not capable of seeing every patient who wants to come in each day, so pet parents often delay care or end up finding unreliable information on the internet.

A recent survey we conducted found that many pet parents learn after visiting a vet that their issue could have been solved remotely.  Vetster veterinarians who are proficient at providing accurate and responsible teletriage will not only help pets and pet parents, they’ll lighten the load for their brick-and-mortar colleagues.

The Anatomy of a Teletriage Consultation - Best Practices

When providing teletriage consultations, make every effort to come as close to an in-person appointment as possible.  Complete the same steps to collect information and make an assessment and plan, just as you would if you were seeing the pet in person.

  • Review any photos or other information the client uploaded.
  • Take and record a complete history in the medical record. Ask open-ended questions to improve the efficiency and accuracy of your assessment. Perform your due diligence and make sure you truly understand what is going on with the pet.
  • Listen to the client and let them feel heard. Utilizing excellent communication skills adds value to virtual care visits, even when the outcome is a pet who needs additional care in a clinic setting.
  • Make a thorough video evaluation of the pet and record those findings in the DAP template. Coach the pet parent through the assessment, whether that means telling them to move to a room with better lighting or how to safely check their pet’s gum color. Record both normal and abnormal findings so the next vet to review your records has an accurate understanding of what you observed.
  • Make an assessment about the status of the pet. Explain potential differential diagnoses where appropriate. If there are signs of an emergency, clearly say so. If the pet appears stable for the time being, explain that too.
  • Let the client know what to expect or what to watch for. Use your best bedside manner to smooth the edges when delivering bad news, and use empathy statements to let people know you care.
  • Answer client questions and make sure they have the information they need to decide what to do next. Your expertise is very valuable and it’s extremely helpful to pet parents to have their pet viewed by a veterinarian and hear what you think.
  • Complete the the DAP template to finalize your medical record and share this information with the client. In an emergency, complete the medical record as quickly as possible so the pet owner has the record when they go to their clinic or hospital.

Please note that it’s important to complete your medical records in the same manner as you would for an in-clinic visit. This is a requirement for all Vetster appointments.  Veterinarians can still provide a great virtual care experience by providing general information and advice, and recording what was discussed is a critical component of that.

Teletriage Outcomes

As a licensed veterinarian, you have the training, skills and experience to gather information and make a judgment call about the status of a pet.  The ultimate goal of a teletriage consultation is to funnel the outcome into one of four buckets:

  • Symptoms clearly indicate an emergency. Call your emergency center now.
  • Symptoms may indicate an emergency; emergency care recommended.
  • No signs of an emergency currently present but symptoms are concerning; seek care as soon as possible.
  • Signs are consistent with something mild and/or self-limiting; reasonable to wait longer before deciding to seek in-person care.

Presenting expert medical direction and encouraging pet owners to take appropriate next steps make this service a valuable part of the Vetster experience.

The Vetster Editorial Team is comprised of seasoned writers and communicators dedicated to elevating stories about Vetster, pets and their owners.
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