In a recent editorial published in the May/June issue of “Today’s Veterinary News”, the University of Georgia’s Simon R. Platt wrote a piece concerning the telemedicine, the AVMA, and the implementation of new telecommunication technologies in the veterinary field. The editorial, in part, focused on a report written by an AVMA advisory panel that attempted to define telemedicine and its potential implications for veterinary medicine. Platt’s assessment saw telemedicine and veterinary telemedicine as dividing into two distinct camps: the first being a kind of consultation structure that facilitated collaboration and cooperation between practitioners, and the second being a more diagnostic role, offering a diagnostic/care service for remote situations, etc. But the real task at hand, as Platt argues, is the degree to which this kind of technology can fit into veterinary medicine not just accurately, but ethically too. Platt notes how “we fear where it all could lead […] the rules of the game don’t change because a consultation occurs electronically rather than face to face.”
To outsiders looking in, veterinary medicine, in some regards, is a very slow moving beast when it comes to technological implementation. But, as Platt’s piece indicates, this isn’t such a bad thing. There are ethical and legal aspects to consider. More importantly, there is the question of standard of care. And here, I would have to agree. Pets present such a raw, emotional attachment for their owners; unconditional love from a pet is an almost universal constant, and something veterinarians must contend with at all times when providing medical care. So it would stand to reason that the technology that is implemented into veterinary medicine augment animal health and well-being in such a way as to support that underlying principle. On the individual practice level, this sentiment towards technology holds true, almost more so than at the broader, AVMA-policy level. So, my thought is this: when you, as a practice-owner, are considering new technologies and software to implement into your practice, consider its ability to effectively relay that standard of care. If your software can relay that level of care so inherently intertwined with veterinary medicine, then perhaps it is technology worth considering. If it only proves to bog your practice down, and mar your ability to provide that certain standard of care, then perhaps you should look elsewhere. When implementing new tech or software, trust what you see, and trust what your employees see. Platt includes a quotation at the beginning of his piece that reads:
“We must always tell what we see. Above all, and this is more difficult, we must always see what we see.” – Platt
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