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There is an alarming shortage of veterinary professionals, and clinics across the country are being pushed to their limits, often lacking the capacity to meet the growing demand for their services.
The Atlantic noted in an article that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated pre-existing staffing problems in the veterinary industry. Veterinarians started retiring to avoid exposure to COVID, according to the publication, which added that an increase in pet adoptions during the pandemic had also increased the demand for veterinary care.
The veterinarian shortage has apparently reached critical levels. NBC12 reported in May 2022 that the vet shortage in Richmond, Virginia, had become so bad that animal hospitals were turning away pet owners and referring the owners to animal hospitals outside the city. But, there may be a solution to the vet shortage: veterinary telemedicine software.
Telemedicine is the use of software and other technologies to provide clinical services remotely. Telehealth can be used to provide non-clinical services and educational resources. Sometimes, both terms are used interchangeably. But, the primary difference is that telehealth is used for a wider range of services.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA ) designates telemedicine as a subcategory of telehealth.
Remote care via telehealth gives veterinary practices a way to serve more patients by offering solutions that eliminate the need for travel to an appointment.
Telehealth software typically facilitates real-time digital communication, patient data storage and transmission, accurate decision-making insights, and advanced security systems. These critical functions require system integrations to maintain interoperability.
Straits Research, a market research organization, estimates that the veterinary telehealth market will reach a market size of $510.49 million by 2030. Straits also states that the growth rate of the market between 2022 and 2030 will be 17.69 percent. That rate makes it a potentially lucrative market for telehealth software companies.
To tap into this emerging market, software companies should hire a software development company with the experience and knowledge to build advanced veterinary telehealth software. The software should include invaluable features such as an electronic health record system, remote patient monitoring, appointment management, e-prescribing functionality, and AI-powered components.
One core feature that can be integrated with telehealth software is an electronic health record (EHR) system. In the online publication, HealthTech , Doug Bonderud shows that EHRs contain diagnostic information and clinician notes from multiple healthcare organizations and can be shared between organizations, as well as with patients.
Pet owners should have access to that type of system through a user-friendly interactive pet portal with an easy registration process, and the vet practice should have an organized infrastructure to track patient data, send messages, set custom alerts, and facilitate access to pet insurance databases along with billing and payment processing.
According to HealthIT.gov, electronic health records (EHRs) give healthcare providers the information needed to make better clinical decisions and to lower healthcare costs through a reduction in paperwork.
As the publication, Medical Economics, states, data is a vital part of healthcare decisions. Tracking essential patient data allows veterinarians to make diagnoses or create treatment plans. Custom veterinary telehealth software could be supported with cloud-based data collection and analytics capabilities.
Another critical feature of veterinary telehealth is remote patient monitoring (RPM), which enables providers to remotely collect patient data such as vital signs. Vets can also use RPM to determine whether clients are complying with recommendations, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Veterinary RPM typically involves wearable devices such as smart collars, which would integrate with EMR and EHR software to exchange medical information seamlessly. These tools can supply advanced diagnostics for pet health vitals, activity, and behavior. Veterinary Practice News reported that veterinarians could use wearable technology on pets to detect the onset of disease in the animals.
A capable software development company would create custom wearable device apps and integrate those apps with multiple data layer APIs to provide full functionality. This company would also be able to leverage cloud-based data storage and processing tools to maintain a reliable back-end infrastructure for the wearable devices.
With a veterinary CRM, managing appointments would be an effortless process. Convenient appointment management software would have cross-platform capabilities, working across mobile and desktop devices. It could also be integrated with third-party calendar APIs to set up a custom appointment calendar platform.
Email or SMS modules can also be used to facilitate automated reminders and allow cancellations or rescheduling. Integrating multi-user calendars and appointments into a main dashboard would give veterinary practices appropriate oversight.
Security measures include implementing permission settings and security protocols that allow only authorized users to access certain scheduling features.
Electronic prescribing, also known as e-prescribing, involves a healthcare provider sending a prescription electronically to a pharmacy. This speeds up the process of getting prescriptions filled.
In an article for Business News Daily , Carlos Soto says that e-prescribing can help prevent clerical errors and save time for staff by quickly providing access to prescription information.
E-prescription software can be integrated with EMR and EHR databases to verify patient credentials. Clinical decision support features would incorporate patient medication history into the process to alert veterinarians and pharmacists of any conflicting drug interactions, further ensuring patient safety.
Custom e-prescription software functions can be added to medication management systems (MMS) through the use of inventory tracking tools such as standard barcode scanners. These tools can be used to automate brand-name and non-exclusive medication orders.
In a journal article, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) wrote about artificial intelligence (AI) having great potential for use in veterinary medicine. The AVMA further noted that AI could be used for diagnostics and animal care. The organization added that AI algorithms could be used to find and categorize abnormalities in radiology images, speeding up the process of providing care to critically-ill patients.
In the same journal article, the AVMA also wrote that machine learning, a subset of AI, could be used in conjunction with veterinary radiology to classify radiographic images. The organization indicated that this system of classification would be part of a process to detect diseases.
Machine learning is essentially a type of advanced pattern recognition that enables software to learn without explicit instructions from a person. So, software companies could potentially leverage that pattern recognition technology to add diagnostic functionality to veterinary telemedicine software.
The growing demand for veterinary telehealth prompts a need for quality software solutions. Software companies could enable veterinary practices to overcome challenges by developing a veterinary practice management system that would include custom telemedicine software.
Top features such as an EHR system, remote patient monitoring, appointment management,e-prescribing functionality, and artificial intelligence would maximize the personalization of care while reducing errors and costs. These features would be supported with cloud-based data collection and analytics capabilities.
Software companies can secure more clients among veterinary clinics and hospitals by providing this type of dependable, cloud-based software.
Any software company that would like to pursue this opportunity should hire the services of a skilled software development company that has experience with the custom development of veterinary telemedicine software. The custom development of this software would also be helpful for complying with local regulatory requirements for veterinary patient privacy.
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
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