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Telemedicine is Coming to the Vets, Part 3: Highlight on Airvet

dog owner with dog on smartphone
May 15, 2020 at 1:14 pm
Carolyn Shadle

This is the third in a series of telehealth articles to be published on the VetPartners blog. Each article in the series will feature a different veterinary telemedicine option, providing valuable insight for veterinary professionals, consultants, and pet owners. Communications professional and freelance journalist Carolyn Shadle is not associated with Airvet or any other telemedicine company. She received no compensation—monetary or otherwise—from VetPartners or Airvet for authoring this article. 

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This is the third in my “telemedicine is coming to the vets” series. As the reality of the pandemic being with us for some time becomes apparent, more veterinary practices are engaging with telemedicine providers.

To learn more about another provider, I turned to VetPartners member Brandon Werber, who developed his telehealth platform, Airvet, a year and a half ago.

The son of a veterinarian, Werber grew up around animals and those who care for them. And, he knew that he had access to his veterinarian father for advice or service at just about any time. But he worried about pet owners who didn’t have a family member to turn to for veterinary help whenever they needed it.  That inspired him to create Airvet.

After graduating from USC Marshall School of Business and establishing businesses offering tech-based tools for advertising and customer loyalty, it was no surprise that Werber turned his talents to help pet owners and veterinarians.

Helping pet owners

Knowing that the veterinary industry is driven by the client, Werber created Airvet with the consumer first in mind. About 70% of the time, clients go to “Dr. Google” and social media before contacting their veterinarian with questions. “The veterinarian isn’t the first line of defense, anymore,” Werber says.

Werber’s product extends pet care beyond the walls of the practice and enables pet owners to turn first to the veterinarian at any time, from any place. He combines telemedicine (based on the VCPR (veterinarian-client-patient-relationship) with telehealth, in which a veterinarian can provide general guidance and triage, without treatment.

By signing onto this service, pet owners can reach their vet online (with or without video) to make appointments, get lab results or a post-op report, request prescription refills, or get pet behavior advice.

If it happens to be after-hours, the client can select the “on-demand” call option, and Airvet will immediately connect the pet owner with another licensed veterinarian in their network for advice and information.

cat owner talking on phone

One client wrote about his experience on the Airvet Facebook page:

Excellent service. Requested “First Available Vet” on a Sunday morning and received a call back immediately. The vet was everything a frantic pet owner could hope for: caring, attentive, reassuring, and patient with initial camera struggles and input from multiple anxious family members. The best $30 I ever spent. He suspected a cruciate ligament injury and saved us a $$$ ER vet bill, advising us it would be safe to wait til our vet reopens tomorrow as long as we put our dog on complete rest until then. Highly recommend.

Helping veterinarians

Airvet provides a benefit to pet owners who need advice when they need it, and it provides a benefit to the veterinarians who need some private or personal time, but still want their clients to be served. If the veterinarians choose, they can simply sign-off, and their clients can be directed to another licensed veterinarian to help provide advice and/or triage.

Thousands of veterinarians, qualified through background checks, are in the pool of those available, and all are at least 50 miles away from the client’s primary veterinarian, so as not to provide competition.

One of those participating veterinarians is Gaines White, DVM, of Atlanta, Georgia. He signed on to communicate with his clients and also to be an always-available vet (“cloud staff,” as he calls it) to those clients—near and far—who need to reach a vet after-hours.

As part of the “cloud staff,” Gaines is happy to give pet owners information and peace of mind. For example, he had one pet owner whose pet had been treated since the pet chewed his tail off, but now, late at night, had chewed the stitches off as well. Through their video connection, Gaines was able to counsel the client to wrap the tail and call the vet in the morning.

In another case, Gaines observed a 100-pound dog whom he regarded as a “mean dog.” The owner needed to return to his vet for post-surgery service but was reluctant, because his dog was so resistant.  Gaines was able to observe the dog, relaxed in his home setting, and actually counseled the owner to remove the sutures himself, at home.

Since many of Gaines’ own clients must travel over an hour each way to visit the hospital, the Airvet service has saved the clients several hours of travel time by seeing them on video and advising or prescribing through telemedicine. This usually saves time on his end, as well.

In this day of telemedicine and telehealth, services like Airvet and other platforms are a win-win for veterinarians and pet owners. It seems that telemedicine in the veterinary industry is here to stay.

 

VetPartners plans to publish one article of this series per month. The author has featured, or will feature, the following telehealth companies:

Are you a veterinary telemedicine company not listed above? Contact the author for a chance to be included in the series!

Like this blog post? Interested in other ways VetPartners can help keep you informed of the latest and greatest innovations in veterinary medicine? Check out our practice management resources.

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Carolyn Shadle
Carolyn C. Shadle, PhD, is the director of Interpersonal Communication Services, Inc., which assists individuals and organizations in improving their interpersonal relations. Those in the veterinary profession know her as the co-author of "Communication Case Studies: Building Interpersonal Skills in the Veterinary Practice," published by the American Animal Hospital Association, and by her presentations at regional and national veterinary conferences. She holds a PhD in organizational and interpersonal communication.

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