Decades ago, the general practice veterinarian was a jack-of-all-trades who provided comprehensive care across all disciplines. Since that time, many veterinary specialties have rapidly emerged to offer pets an advanced care level similar to human health care. With all the specialty care now available, today’s pet owners, who are much more invested in their pets, are demanding the highest care levels for their pet and routinely expect a referral.
Referral can be a valuable tool for general veterinarians to improve patient welfare and offer previously unavailable care through specialist collaboration, but not all veterinarians have access to these services. Rural veterinarians may be practicing in a “specialty desert,” with no specialist community nearby. For jack-of-all-trades veterinarians seeking to advance their skills, knowledge, and access to specialty care, VESPECON can help.
The value of referral
Pets who develop complicated, chronic, or recurrent medical conditions can benefit from referral, which can provide quicker problem resolution, increased survival times, and improved quality of life. Studies show that when primary veterinarians and veterinary specialists collaborate, they can improve most case outcomes. Some examples include:
- Chronic otitis — A study of 65 dogs with chronic, proliferative otitis found that 43% managed collaboratively had complete resolution, compared with no dogs managed with primary care alone. Dogs without complete resolution who were managed collaboratively, however, had more time between recurrences and greater improvements in proliferative changes.
- Congestive heart failure (CHF) — A 2016 study found that small-breed dogs with CHF from myxomatous valve disease lived 74% longer with collaborative care versus those under primary care alone.
Collaborative veterinary care can also save clients money in the long term with fewer visits to resolve or manage their pet’s problem. Additionally, increased pet survival times translate to increased revenue for the primary veterinarian when patients return for ongoing routine care.
Improving specialty care access
Specialty care centers are commonplace in suburban and city locations, but clients in rural areas may live hours from the nearest facility. According to polled millennial pet owners, 71% would take a lower paying job to bring their pets to work, around half value their pet’s approval of dating partners more than their family’s, and all demand the best possible care for their pets. Exceptional clients may be willing to travel for specialty care, so offering referral is still the best practice, but for clients unable to travel long distances, telemedicine consults can be a viable alternative option by offering elevated care in your primary veterinary setting.
How VESPECON can help
Our service offers primary veterinarians an opportunity to connect and collaborate with a specialist team for advanced patient care. Veterinarians in rural areas often have only a limited number of patients whose owners are willing to travel, and therefore find forging relationships with local specialists difficult. With VESPECON, you can connect with our consulting specialists via video chat, and develop long-term collaborative relationships. With our virtual approach, we can see your patient in real time and help you thoroughly understand their condition, walk you through diagnostics, and develop the best possible treatment plan that fits your client’s budget.
Our virtual care team includes specialists across multiple disciplines, whose combined expertise can devise the best treatment for patients with competing medical needs. We’re always available for follow-up consultation and continued, long-term patient care. As a bonus, each time you consult with our team, you’ll expand your knowledge and add valuable new skills to your primary care repertoire. If our team recommends in-person referral for clients willing to travel, we can help facilitate the transition and continue to consult with you when the pet returns to your care.
Veterinary specialty care continues to advance and expand, but some practitioners still have limited access to in-person referrals. VESEPCON offers you a telemedicine platform to find solutions and have increased access to specialty care, while improving your skills and knowledge as a primary veterinarian. Reach out to our team if you’d like to learn more about our consultation services, or get started today.