The future of veterinary medicine will see deeper integration of digital and in-person care, improving experiences for professionals, pets, and their owners
LOS ANGELES (January 26, 2023) – Tablets used in hospital rooms for prescription writing and client checkout. Chatbots to find available appointments. Credentialed virtual assistants who reduce notetaking during exams and improve the quality of record-keeping. Continuity of that begins at home or on the road, online and on our phones, carried through an in-person hospital visit. Our pets are starting to experience how technology-enabled care can improve their health and well-being. Today, VCA Animal Hospitals unveiled key trends that will change how care is delivered, expanding access to care for pets and their owners and improving the experience of professionals in the field.
“We're on the cusp of unlocking an experience that empowers care teams to see pets that need them while reducing work that distracts from the joy of caring for these pets,” said Garrett Lewis, Chief Operating Officer of VCA Animal Hospitals. “We’re striving for a focus on operational excellence backed by deeper integration between our in-person care teams and digital tools. Pilots are getting us started but it’s the purposeful, consistent applications of technology that will improve care of pets and the lives of our Associates.”
The future of veterinary medicine will bring about a seamless pairing of digital, virtual and in-person care. Innovation trends driving this future include:
• Access to triage support—anywhere, anytime. We live in an always-on world where most things are available on demand. Veterinary medicine is embracing this trend, spurred by the COVID pandemic when hospital teams quickly pivoted – some for the first time – to providing care over video calls and text messages. Expect to see more triage services offered virtually, complimenting in-person care. For example, VCA offers its clients access to free Live Chat with a credentialed veterinary technician—day or night via the myVCA App. Pet owners can quickly get expert guidance if, for example, their dog ate something they shouldn’t have and whether that requires an in-person visit.
• The doctor will see you now, on video. Unlike the video calls some owners may have experienced, telemedicine involves a doctor you may not see at your home hospital. Improvements in technology and a growing interest from practitioners and consumers alike will drive an expansion of telemedicine options. VCA, for example, plans to introduce a telemedicine option in several states later this year.
• Book appointments on your schedule. Traditionally, booking an appointment with your veterinarian has meant a phone call. Today, animal hospitals are embracing digital options quickly that allow clients to book online. VCA was one of the first in the industry to offer digital appointment booking in 2016, and digital booking has helped its teams spend less time on the phone and more time with pets and clients in the hospital.
• Doctors get virtual, credentialed scribes. Veterinarians typically spend at least two hours daily typing medical notes from patient visits – so much time that doctors often take work home to complete notes after hours. Soon, this toll on doctors could be eliminated as credentialed technicians assist virtually, transcribing recorded dictations from doctors. In turn, doctors will have more time to spend with patients and clients in the hospital, ultimately expanding access. In 2022, VCA launched an internal Scribe program that currently supports over 200 doctors, with plans to support over 1,000 doctors by the end of the year.
• Technology native hospitals. The in-hospital experience will look different soon, too. More hospitals will adopt virtual waiting rooms, similar to waiting for a table at the popular restaurant from home. Virtual care options like remote client service representatives will allow some hospitals to rethink the front desk, eliminating ringing phones from the lobby space and allowing teams to focus on the pets and clients in front of them. VCA has brought these trends together in the new VCA Animal Hospitals Urgent Care facilities, 17 of which will open this year alone.
“The push to integrate digital technologies has been in the works for years, but the COVID pandemic accelerated everyone’s plans – adoption that might have taken years happened in months because we all had to move quickly,” said Abe Al-Murjan, Vice President, Digital Products at VCA. “Successful technology integration requires a relentless focus on our purpose and the people and pets we serve. Whenever a new platform or app comes on the scene, we always start by asking: How does this help improve the lives of our teams, and the pets and clients they care for?”
Learn more about these trends and how they contribute to the world-class medicine provided by VCA’s network of hometown hospitals by visiting www.vcahospitals.com.