Virtual care has been a hot topic for years, but will it really transform pet healthcare? The short answer is yes.

Although, I should clarify a few things. In-person interactions and relationships will always be important. Visits to veterinary clinics will not go away. Chatbots will not replace veterinarians. Vaccines will not be administered by drones. But make no mistake, virtual care will transform pet healthcare.  

The transformation won’t happen overnight. It will take a little time, but the pandemic has already accelerated pet owners’ interest and adoption as they look for more pet care options from the safety of their homes. Since the pandemic started, we’ve seen a 150% increase in virtual care usage and clients love it. How do we know this? We’ve received more than 10,000 five-star reviews with an average rating of 4.85/5 stars. 

Here’s how virtual care will transform pet healthcare. 

Better Access
Let’s face it. Packing your pet into your car, driving to the veterinary clinic and wrangling your pet in the lobby takes time and most people wouldn’t call it easy or convenient. With live video visits and in-app messaging, pet owners can easily connect with a veterinary nurse or veterinarian to answer general questions, triage and/or diagnose the problems quickly from the comfort of their home. In fact, we’ve seen that about 50% of virtual cases can be handled remotely with the other 50% of cases being referred in-hospital for additional diagnostics or care. This keeps pets in a comfortable environment and reduces the total time commitment needed from pet owners.

Healthier Pets
With improved access to healthcare, pet owners will reach out earlier and more often. Remote patient monitoring devices will also alert pet owners and veterinary care teams when pets are experiencing abnormal behaviors (e.g., drinking, licking, scratching, sleeping, activity, etc.) so they can diagnose potential health issues early. Both of these factors will inevitably lead to earlier intervention and better health outcomes, which means pet owners get to spend more quality time with their pets – and that’s the point, right?

Lower Costs
Early intervention will also help reduce long-term medical costs. It’s far cheaper to prevent and treat illness when it’s caught early and before it becomes a serious health problem. Pet owners can also potentially avoid costly emergency visits by accessing trusted virtual triage that recommends watchful care or a follow-up with their primary care veterinarian within 24-48 hours. 

Benefits for Veterinary Clinics
Virtual care is a tool that will help clinics practice better medicine and care for more pets. It’s not intended to replace in-hospital care – it’s intended to supplement it. With a shortage of veterinarians and demand for pet healthcare increasing, it’s becoming harder for clinics to support their existing client base. Virtual care will help clinics care for more pets and ensure their in-hospital appointments are reserved for pets that need more immediate and onsite care. This is also good for business because pets that are referred in-hospital typically need more diagnostics and care, which means more revenue for the hospital. In fact, we’ve seen that 60% of virtual cases that are referred for in-hospital diagnostics or care book an appointment within 48 hours and are more likely to follow their veterinarian’s recommendations. In other words, virtual care allows clinics to see more pets (without adding more exam rooms), provide better care for pets and capture more revenue.

In the end, virtual care is all about better meeting the needs of pet owners and their pets. Younger adults, ages 18-44 (forecasted to account for approximately 50% of all pet ownership by 2025) are more likely to choose a virtual care option, but all pet owners want more convenient and accessible pet healthcare options. And if pets could talk, I’m guessing they’d be on board too. 

Virtual care is not some far off pipe dream. The technology is available today. The benefits are real. Pet owners will adopt virtual care if it’s easy and convenient, and that’s a good thing for pet owners, pets and veterinary clinics. 
“Younger adults are more likely to choose a virtual care option, but all pet owners want more convenient and accessible pet healthcare options.”