The profession, including state boards regardless of whether individuals consider them to be peers, will inevitably face continued emerging technologies. In the face of that undeniable change, what's your prediction for the future of the VCPR and how can practicing veterinarians handle the changes while staying involved in their patients' care?
[James Penrod] As telemedicine increases in human care, people are going to expect telemedicine to be an option for veterinary care. Organizations like the AVMA and the AAVSB are working to help practitioners and board members – who I still say are your peers – understand technology and how our profession needs to change as a result.
[Lori Teller] I agree that the VCPR will be modified to better meet the needs of clients and members of the public who face limited access to care for whatever reason, be it financial or geographic. Another piece to consider is how telemedicine can help expand the reach of general practice veterinarians by creating better utilization of paraprofessional staff and better partnering with specialists, particularly in remote areas. There are times when a specialist can virtually guide the general practitioner so clients can avoid a long trip to the nearest referral center.
[Jessica Trimble] I see a future where veterinarians need to learn more about communication skills, because we will move away from being true diagnosticians to more educators and guides. We will be able to look at the output of patient data from AI (artificial intelligence) devices. Then we'll need to focus on communicating with the pet owner to outline the best diagnostic path.
I'll admit that I worry a bit about our profession, which is already a little stressed, as we throw in rapid changes like technology. We have to figure out how to help each other navigate those changes.
I've been delighted in the last year to see some of our larger organizations, like the AVMA and AAVSB, helping veterinarians understand how to implement telemedicine, navigate the laws and navigate the 50-plus telemedicine companies out there. Some people are listening and considering not only what's best for veterinarians, but also what's best for our patients. Overall, I am excited to see what happens over the next several years and to be a part of it.
[LT] I encourage veterinarians to think of telemedicine as just another service to offer to bond clients to their practices. Just like when veterinarians add a new product or service to the practice to better serve clients and patients, adding telemedicine can be another way to build on the trust established with clients.
[JT] The veterinary profession is dealing with misaligned expectations around what consumers want and what we can provide. We need to find ways to continue helping pet owners while meeting them where they are, rather than expecting them to come to us every time.
[JP] I hope the veterinary profession proactively takes ownership of telemedicine to ensure they're the group controlling how it works in consideration for access to care and the best protection of the public and animals.