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Telemedicine
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Telemedicine

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is something that is becoming increasingly part of day to day veterinary practice. Essentially, it is the result of the widespread availability of computers, smart phones and other electronic gadgets that are now being applied to helping to look after pets.

Years ago, there was just the telephone, where problems and symptoms could be described verbally to us vets. Then came video cameras and digital photography which allowed owners to show us conditions that might only be happening at home and could not be seen in the consulting room. We now regularly receive photos and videos via email and social media (Facebook) to help decide if something needs to be seen physically or not.

Pet activity trackers are now available, as they are for us humans, which can help monitor trends in pet activity levels.
Very soon, we expect an increasing range of gadgets to become more widely available that can measure things like temperature, blood glucose (great for diabetic patients), heart function and respiratory rates. All of these can be linked to apps on smartphones and can then be forwarded to us vets in the event of concerns.

The reliablity of some of these telemedicine devices is still uncertain and, for serious conditions, there is nothing that can replace a thorough physical examination, but the real value of telemedicine is that it may help owners (and veterinary staff) to better determine those cases that need more urgent physical attention.