Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI)-commissioned research into the topic of veterinary telemedicine revealed that 35% of veterinary practitioners (vets), and 35% of veterinary nurses (nurses), believe that there is an increasing role for telemedicine in the provision of veterinary services.
When the question was asked of a stakeholder group, which included members of the general public, that rose to 43%.
The results of this research, carried out early in 2021, featured in the VCI’s recently published annual report.
Three separate surveys on this topic were designed for nurses, vets, and stakeholders to include the general public.
The survey asked respondents to provide feedback on:
- The role of veterinary telemedicine;
- The impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Role of veterinary telemedicine
As outlined above, 43% of stakeholders, 35% of nurses and 35% of vets said they believe there is an increasing role for telemedicine in the profession.
Asked to what extent they believed that knowledge of the animals’ environment, husbandry conditions, diet, and veterinary medical history are important in determining diagnosis and treatment for an animal or herd or flock, 86% of stakeholders, 94% of nurses, and 92% of vets believed it to be important.
Throughout 2021, the VCI engaged in three public consultations on:
1. Veterinary telemedicine;
2. Research into mental health and wellbeing within the veterinary professions;
3. Codes of Professional Conduct.
When asked if a physical inspection of animals or animal products destined for the food chain should be required to allow a vet to certify the animal’s condition, 62% of stakeholders, 88% of nurses and 90% of vets said it was.
On the topic of triage/initial assessment of an animal or herd, 62% of stakeholders, 71% of nurses and 68% of vets said they would feel confident in delivering veterinary services using remote technologies.
But a closer look found that in relation to diagnosing:
- Stakeholders – 10% confident; 59% not confident; 31% unsure.
- Vet nurses – 4% confident; 70% not confident; 26% unsure.
- Vets – 10% confident; 70% not confident; 20% unsure.
On this topic, 34%, 23% and 23% of stakeholders, nurses and vets, respectively, said they had confidence in prescribing prescription-only medicines or products using remote technologies.
And, 28%, 68%, and 65%of stakeholders, nurses and vets, respectively, said they believe that veterinary telemedicine could, potentially, lead to an increase in AMR.