Dr. Theresa Tommell at Just Cats Veterinary Clinic has been providing telemedicine appointments since April, 2020. We took a few moments to catch up with her to find out how they are going.
Q: Telemedicine appointments are new to Just Cats. How are they going and what do you like best about them?
A: The telemedicine appointments are going great. I love that I can interact with the clients and patients face to face in their home environment. It gives me the opportunity to see the patient without all the stress of them coming into the clinic.
It is so convenient for everyone.
A lot of appointments that would have taken place in the clinic can be done just as effectively at home, and with the huge advantage of eliminating a stressful car ride, often followed by a stressful vet visit. We have clients that travel over an hour to come to our clinic. If we can avoid that drive for them and their kitty, I think that’s wonderful.
In some cases, televisits are even better than an office visit. A great example is behavior appointments. It allows me to walk in the cat’s shoes through their home environment. In the past, we have used maps and pictures drawn by the clients. But a video tour provides so much more information about their environment.
Q: What kinds of appointments are good for telemedicine?
A: They are helpful for minor skin concerns and wounds, quality of life assessments, nutrition consults, second opinions, behavior, triage for the in-hospital doctor, GI concerns that may resolve with a small diet change or the addition of GI supplements. Sometimes a diet change and a probiotic can go a very long way.
They are great for clients who are challenged by transportation or just want to keep themselves safe by social distancing.
Q: Have clients had any technical challenges and how have they overcome them?
A: Clients and myself:)
Occasionally we are not able to make the face-to-face work due to a poor connection. Then we just hop on the phone. But this has only been an issue for a very small number of telemedicine appointments I have done. It has not been a major issue.
Q: What is the funniest thing that happened during a telemedicine appt.?
A: I can’t think of anything LOL funny, but I love being able to see the kitty’s lounging in their natural environment at home where they are relaxed. They do make me chuckle sometimes. I don’t often get to see this in the clinic, especially when they are not feeling well.
Q: There are three ways to conduct a telemedicine appt. at Just Cats: Video, phone or email. What are the advantages or disadvantages of each one?
A: I would always prefer video. It gives me the opportunity to see the client and patient, especially if they are new to Just Cats. Of course the added benefit is that I can see any physical concerns about the cat.
Q: How can telemedicine appointments save money?
A: Dietary concerns or sensitivities are good examples. They can start off mildly affecting the kitty, possibly with some minor skin lesions, or with occasional vomiting or diarrhea. If we intervene early and try to eliminate the culprit – possibly add some supplements with a diet change – we can avoid some more severe consequences, not good for kitty or your wallet.
Allergies and food sensitivities that become more of a chronic issue can lead to severe skin lesions that require steroids and sometimes antibiotics, as well as a collar to prevent self-inflicted wounds. They can also lead to severe intestinal inflammation and cause secondary inflammation in the pancreas as well as damage to the GI tract and esophagus, if vomiting is frequent enough. If we see a patient in the later stages, we have to rule out other more severe diseases, and that can get quite expensive. If we see them early and get them on the right track with diet and some other management tools, we may be able to avoid an extensive work up all together. Nutrition in felines, as with us, plays such a huge part in all of this. “You are what you eat.”
To schedule your telemedicine appointment, email us at: [email protected]