Are mischievous internet monkeys turning the veterinary profession into a zoo
We have had an interesting month, stumbling onto items on the internet that have sparked our curiosity and then concern for what may be happening to the veterinary profession out there in cyberspace.
Our first stumbling was onto a telemedicine link on a corporate vet’s website. Intrigued to see how this was working (and our dacshund being a little itchy) we clicked the link. We fully expected to be asked if we already had a vet, were registered with this vet or something more about being a bona fide client/patient. Notably, the being a ‘bona fide’ client that has visited the practice in the last 6 months is part of the telemedicine regulations released by some of the boards. However it was simply click and pay ($39.50) and have a video consult with the veterinarian who was ready and waiting to talk to us! No ‘bona fide’ relationship required!
Overall it was not a bad experience – the veterinarian was friendly, interested and very helpful. The consult was at least 20 minutes, followed up by a very detailed email with confirmation of the advice given and if the dog didn’t improve then we could take him in for allergy testing and get a credit back on the fee we had already paid against the in clinic consultation.
Our concern however was what about our ‘usual’ vet – we were not asked for their details, they never received a copy of the history or advice and as a pet owner we were more likely to go back to the clinic linked to the online vet as we would pay a reduced fee. Will this affect privately owned smaller veterinary businesses – quite possibly. Was this really a proper health examination for a dog never seen previously? We have notified the Veterinary Board, and will update you if this is allowed or not…..
After getting over our reaction to this experience less than a week later, we were on an online Australian pet product website buying some veterinary prescription diet food to help reduce weight on our ever expanding dogs’ waist lines. Purchasing the food was easy, you just get a warning to talk to your vet. However, whilst shopping the little pop up on the screen said that someone had just bought a vaccination…..thinking this was just a misreading we searched for vaccinations and sure enough we could buy vaccinations as individual doses! Thinking there was a catch we put two different ones in our shopping cart but there was no warning, disclaimer or instruction – it was as if we were buying dog and cat treats?!
Times are changing, things progress, but are pets really getting proper care if services and products associated with their health and wellbeing are offered in this way online?