Telemedicine Has Come to the Vets, Part 15: Highlight on Virtuwoof

Black female pet owner with dog
Oct 7, 2021 at 9:06 pm

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


Virtuwoof was founded in 2018 by Allison Boerum and Abby Henstein, both from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Boerum and Henstein had worked together previously, designing mobile apps in data security and computer forensics.

As they worked together, they discussed the needs of Boerum’s French bulldog and Henstein’s boxer. With background in computer technology, they realized there were conveniences that technology provides in human medicine that could be readily available in veterinary medicine.

Wanting to branch out as entrepreneurs, the two women proceeded to immerse themselves in the veterinary community. Listening to the pain points and challenges of veterinary professionals, as well as those of other pet parents, they realized offering telemedicine in the veterinary industry was not only possible, but it could truly change the way veterinary professionals interact with their clients. That became particularly clear when the pandemic made it difficult for clients to bring their pets into veterinary practices.

Simple and secure

With their knowledge of software engineering and design, Boerum and Henstein created the Virtuwoof mobile apps and web platforms to enable simple, secure, and streamlined virtual care for pets, easily adapted for clinics of any size or location. Because of their background in forensics, the two entrepreneurs were sensitive to the importance of designing an encrypted platform that keeps payment information secure. They also wanted to free veterinary staff from giving out their personal phone numbers, so they streamlined all interaction into one platform.

With these types of services, they provide an entry for pet parents to sign on as new clients or for a follow-up visit. They also allow clinics to customize their visit types and prices, which can be changed any time through the hospital’s administrative console. Practices can choose to charge for virtual visits, or waive fees, as needed.

In creating Virtuwoof, Boerum and Henstein aim to provide the best customer experience in the veterinary virtual care industry. Adopting new technology and a new way of practicing veterinary medicine is a big undertaking for practices and can certainly be intimidating. Boerum and Henstein believe that they have a particular expertise in making this new technology easy to understand and implement, and their dedicated customer care managers make it easy by being available to get clinics started with a single point of contact.

Another goal is for every clinic using Virtuwoof to realize the financial and operational benefits of offering virtual care as quickly as possible.

Virtuwoof’s pricing is a simple monthly subscription fee for unlimited platform use with no onboarding fees. They report that most veterinary practices make up their subscription fee in the first few days of each month and then generate additional revenue for the practice.

white man with dog texting on smartphone

A unique give-back program

Unique to Virtuwoof is their give-back program. The company donates a percent of each virtual visit fee to organizations that support the wellbeing of veterinary professionals, including Not One Move Vet (NOMV). They also contribute to Greater Good Charities and the local Emotional Rescue in Hasting, Minnesota, which helps animals get the critical care they need.

A satisfied veterinarian

One satisfied user is Dr. Jen Seidl, owner of Grand Avenue Veterinary Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. She met Boerum and Henstein when they were both being interviewed by a local news program about veterinary care.  Coincidently, the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association endorsed Virtuwoof at about the same time. Dr. Seidl decided to take the plunge and add telemedicine to her services. She said that she found the founders of Virtuwoof to be “super receptive,” and she was happy to support a local business. In many ways they were growing together, she said, with Virtuwoof willing to make changes or additions to the platform in response to her suggestions.

Dr. Seidl has elected to use Virtuwoof only Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., since there are several urgent care facilities in the area available for emergencies when Grand Avenue Veterinary Center is not open. Dr. Seidl recognizes that, for some pet owners and their pets, visiting the vet is highly stressful, and telemedicine is a preferred alternative. Also, many of Dr. Seidl’s clients have lakeside vacation homes and are grateful to be able to contact Grand Avenue Veterinary Center with concerns, like a skin rash, a suspected ear infection, or even a behavioral issue, without having to drive to the practice. Each day, Dr. Seidl assigns one staff member to work at home and monitor the telemedicine calls.

A satisfied pet owner

Pet owner Kathleen Matthews lives in Minneapolis. She has been a client at her veterinary clinic in St. Paul for 25 years and was grateful for the Virtuwoof telemedicine option. Late one Friday her 2 ½-year-old shih tzu-bichon frise mix was shaking his head. It seemed that one of his ears was bothering him. When she called the vet to see about bringing him in, she learned that she could do a visit via Virtuwoof.

Matthews was hesitant, but she felt that it was better than nothing. The hardest part, she said, was setting up the profile. Once she got that taken care of, she was able to exchange text messages with the vet over about 30 minutes. After the text conversation, Matthews was prescribed a couple of medications to treat the ear infection, and she picked them up shortly thereafter. She said that the whole process was a positive experience, and she was thankful she didn’t have to wait over the weekend and have her pup feeling discomfort the entire time.

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For this series, the author has featured 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!

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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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