By Dr Sue Samuelsson
Telemedicine is the remote practice of veterinary medicine using medical imaging and diagnostics technologies. When Dr Sue Samuelsson began i-Vet, an online veterinary service using new technologies, she could not have envisioned just how far-reaching the service would become.
With the rapid increase of technological advances, improved camera technology and increased broadband speeds, online consultations like i-Vetâ€™s are not only more viable, but in many cases more convenient than clinical appointments. Used world-wide, telemedicine may be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone, or as complex as using satellite technology and video-conferencing equipment to conduct a real-time consultation between medical specialists in two different countries.
For clients living in remote area, and for those whose disabilities or travel restrictions prevent them from accessing clinical care, i-Vet has become a lifesaver. Pet owners are offered around-the-clock veterinary advice, and in many cases, the consultation will be covered by the ownerâ€™s pet insurance.
i-Vet uses an integrated proprietary booking/video system, for their consultations. Online appointments can be made through email, telephone or online, and can take place instantly, 24 hours a day. The consultation will take about 20 minutes, depending on the petâ€™s issues, and if medicine is required, it can be express posted. In some cases, prescriptions can be written and emailed so clients can pick up the medications at the local pharmacy.
Most clients will find their smart phone (Android, iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch) is perfect for the consultation. They simply click on the unique joining URL sent with their confirmation booking email. I-Vet will then auto-launch the app install needed to tune in.
For those who need to consult via their computer, both PCs and Mac-based systems will work well. The client is connected via the computerâ€™s microphone and speakers.
Other systems have been developed in recent years, generally by companies that deal with many veterinary services or private entrepreneurs. Some offer specific services such as tele-radiology. However, unlike i-Vet, they are not run by the vets themselves.
With i-Vet, their expert vets will pick up the subtle hints that tell them about your petâ€™s condition. The clientâ€™s input is valued, as they can do simple tests on their pets that help the vet make a diagnosis. As well as the urgent aspect of the consultation, the vet will help with managing any ongoing health problems and draw up wellness plans that include vaccinations, and worm and parasite control
Other conditions that can be managed through an i-Vet video consultation are cuts, injuries, wounds, general health check ups, skin conditions, vaccinations, limps, abscesses, vomiting, diarrhoea, and general unwellness. In the case of more serious conditions, the pet may need to be referred to a specialist or vet hospital.
In spite of i-Vetâ€™s wide reach and influence, you get the feeling that the company is just around the corner. Dr Sue and her staff are just a phone call away. Thatâ€™s very comforting when you know your sick pet needs some expert care.
Peace of mind can never be underestimated.
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Dr Sue Samuelsson is a caring and dynamic vet in the Northern Territory, Australia who has had a profound effect on many remote communities around East Arnhem Land.Â She is the creatorÂ of i-Vet, an innovateÂ online service designed for pet owners. Away from her busy schedule she enjoys catching barramundi in the Daly River.