Ebenezer Animal Hospital is now offering remote healthcare services within the EbenezerAH smartphone app!
But what is telemedicine, and how does it work?
The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) defines telemedicine as “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications regarding a patient’s clinical health status.” Many of you have experienced telemedicine in one form or another by consulting with your own personal physician or your child’s physician. We as a hospital decided to offer telemedicine to our clients because we feel that it enhances your pet’s health and adds another option to interact with our doctors. Our world is continuously becoming more connected via digital communication. It is important to stress that telemedicine will never be able to replace the gold standard of veterinary care: the physical exam. A veterinarian interacting with your pet cannot be exactly replicated with remote care via telemedicine.
In order to utilize telemedicine, we required a Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship or VCPR. We define a VCPR as a hands on physical examination of your pet in the last year. If this has happened at our hospital, then you and your pet may be eligible to participate in telemedicine!
By using your tablet or smartphone (Apple or Android device), you will now be able to interact digitally with our doctors via the Ebenezer Animal Hospital app. Using the “chat” feature in our app, you can chat one on one with an EAH doctor and have your pet seen virtually. A good history of what the problem is, the duration of the issue, and any relevant changes in diet, environment, or other variables helps us with formulating a plan. Just like an in person exam, the doctor will provide a diagnosis and make recommendations via a treatment plan. We recommend plenty of good pictures and videos with good light to help us get the best view of your pet. Medications dispensed, if needed, can be picked up at the hospital or even shipped to you via our online pharmacy. Not every problem can be resolved virtually. For these visits, we will recommend your pet comes in for a hands on examination. Telemedicine appointments are done during business hours at EAH and the platform is on demand, asynchronous chat.
Our doctors, client care associates, technicians, and assistants will recommend when we think telemedicine may be a good option for your pet. You are welcome to initiate a chat session with our client care associates and they will be able to transfer to a telemedicine consultation if appropriate. Here are a few scenarios where we think a virtual visit can be just as valuable as an in person visit:
- one or two isolated incidents of vomiting or diarrhea with normal appetite and energy level
- mild skin irritation or fleas present
- an ear infection that does not look 100% clear after treatment at the hospital
- rough play with another dog and sudden limping or lameness
- situational anxiety such as thunderstorms, separation, and fireworks
- recheck exams after a major surgery
- healthy patients with a mild cough or sneeze
- questions about quality of life and end of life care
- diet advice and questions about weight loss or gain
- patients that are fearful or extremely stressed when they come to the hospital
Finally, it is VERY important to recognize that under no circumstances should any emergency ever be submitted via telemedicine. Life threatening injuries and disease should always be seen by a veterinary hospital or emergency facility!
We are excited to offer this unique service to our clients and patients and look forward to seeing your pet digitally in the near future!
Here’s how it works:
- To use this service, the doctors of Ebenezer Animal Hospital must have an existing Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship (a VCPR) with your pet. This is defined as your pet having been examined by one of our veterinarians in our hospital in the last year. We are legally not permitted to provide Telemedicine consultations for patients that do not fulfill this requirement.
- If a VCPR exists, to get started you should download the EbenezerAH app on the iTunes or Google Play store.
- Login to your EbenezerAH app account using the same email address that we have on file with our hospital.
- Give us a call at 803.366.1950 to schedule a telemedicine consultation with one of our doctors! If telemedicine is not the best fit for your pet’s concern, we will let you know.
- Once you have a time scheduled with a doctor, open the app a few minutes before your scheduled chat time.
- Click on the “Chat now” feature on the home screen.
- One of our Client Service Representatives will respond to your chat, and convert it to a telemedicine chat with the scheduled veterinarian.
- Chat away! Sending pictures and/or videos of your pet and the concern are so helpful!
- Once your telemedicine consultation is over, our team will contact you to obtain payment for the “visit”. If medications were prescribed, you can pick those up as discussed as well.