Thursday, May 14, 2015

Video Chat with a Vet? There's an App for That #VetOnDemand

This post is sponsored by Vet on Demand, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. We am being compensated for helping spread the word about the Vet on Demand App, but GLOGIRLY only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Vet on Demand is not responsible for the content of this article.

WAFFLES:  Hey Boss! Who's the man in the white coat? 

KATIE:  White coat? Must be for you, Waffles.

WAFFLES:  It says here he's a Vet OnDemand. Does that mean I can watch movies and stuff with him?

KATIE:  Pretty sure it's not that kind of OnDemand.

WAFFLES:  I suppose that means popcorn is out too, huh?




Video Chat with a Vet
VetOnDemand™ is the first of it's kind mobile app to provide personalized, real-time access to veterinary care via video chat. Pet parents can contact board certified, licensed veterinarians for help in answering general questions or caring for a sick pet. In addition, they can offer advice in determining whether or not an emergency vet visit is needed. 



How Does it Work?
1. Download the App
The iPhone-friendly app is free and can be downloaded through iTunes. An app for Android users will be available very soon, as will the ability to use your iPad or computer, equipped with a camera and microphone.

2. Create Your Profile
You'll need to enter your credit card card information as part of your profile before you make your first call. We'd recommend doing this before creating your pets' profiles too.

3. Add Your Pets
You can create a profile for as many pets as you'd like. Enter their name, age, breed, weight, etc... even a profile pic if you'd like. You can also include symptoms and other relevant info regarding the reason for your call.

4. Make the Call
Click the CALL NOW button on your app. You'll be placed in a queue for the next available vet. Your screen will indicate how many people are 'in line' in front of you. Wait times vary. For our call we waited approximately 20 minutes.

5. Chat With Your Vet
Your vet will want you to give them an overview of what's going on with your pet. We recommend making a list of your concerns and questions ahead of time so that you don't forget to ask anything. This will make the most of your time. 

6. Call Notes
Though we still took copious notes during our video chat, call notes are automatically made available to you.


What Does it Cost?
A flat $2.50 per minute, billed directly to your credit card.

About the Vets
Each of the veterinarians are board certified and have gone through screening process including phone interviews with the VetOnDemand Veterinary Leadership Team and a thorough review of their clinical experience, training, licensure and a comprehensive questionnaire. 

At this time, there isn't a way to preview the backgrounds or bios of each VetOnDemand vet, but that is in the works. For us, it's important to be able to shop around (as long as it's not an emergency) and select a vet who has interests or specialties in areas that are applicable to our needs and what's important to us. For example, if there is a holistic vet available we might be interested in discussing alternative medicine or nutrition. Or maybe there's a vet who really enjoys helping pet parents with chronic diseases like diabetes or IBD. We like to know those things.

About Our Call
We spoke with Dr. Phil Baxter and discussed both Katie's struggles and her progress with inflammatory bowel disorder. It was very nice to get another vet's perspective on some of the things we should be watching for. We had questions about long term steroid use and he provided very thorough answers. He also recommended double checking things like thyroid health in Katie's most recent bloodwork, so we followed up on that with our regular vet. 

Though we didn't necessarily agree with some of his suggestions regarding nutrition, he helped us to understand the importance of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officialsstandards in pet food labeling and we have since verified that the specialty whole food diet Katie has been doing so well on does indeed meet AAFCO's standards and the food labels display the AAFCO statement. This has helped us to feel even better about her current nutrition.


Why VetOnDemand? 
Our Own Vet's Perspective
We're very lucky to live in a large metropolitan area with easy access to quality veterinary care. We're also fortunate to be able to afford care, including regular wellness visits. But we know not everyone is as lucky as we are. In fact, nearly 1/2 of household cats have not visited a veterinarian in the past year. (source: 2012 US Pet Ownership & Demographic Sourcebook)

We asked our own local vet what she thought about pet parents seeking veterinary advice through an app like VetOnDemand. Though she feels that no phone call or video chat can replace an in-person physical examination or the benefit of building and maintaining the doctor-client relationship, she did admit there are some situations a video chat with a qualified veterinarian could be a good thing. 

For example, those living in rural areas may find it difficult or even impossible to get to a clinic. Talking with a VetOnDemand practitioner could help determine whether the 90 minute drive to the clinic is necessary. They can help to identify an emergency when the pet parent is unsure or cannot.

And although our vet would much rather see a pet in person, she knows all too well the reality of how many, or few, pets actually see a vet at all. The video chat is better than no veterinary advice at all. 


The Bottom Line - In Our Own Words
VetOnDemand can be great resource for pet parents needing quick advice on non-emergency situations, second opinions and general health questions. It gives pet parents an opportunity to speak one-on-one with a vet when your own vet may not be available or if you don't have a regular vet at all.

On the flip side, we can't say enough about how important is to have a great relationship with your regular vet. Someone you trust, someone who can answer your questions and who really knows you and your pet. Our vet is only a phone call away. If we need advice or have questions, we can talk with her or one of the other vets on staff for free. 

There's definitely something to be said about history and about the vet-client-pet relationship. Our vet knows Katie & Waffles almost as well as her her own pets. That's something there just isn't an app for.




32 comments:

  1. The nearest vet for us is an hour and a half away. It's not a good thing. When Harry got hit by the car I was a nervous wreck until I heard from the hubby.

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes just having someone to talk to can make all the difference.

      Delete
  2. What a great review you guys did on this app. I agree that nothing is better than seeing a vet in person, but I think this could be nice for all the reasons that you pointed out. Plus, you could even get a second opinion possibly.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Ann. That's what we used our call for... a second opinion. Even if nothing new is discovered, a second opinion can offer peace of mind.

      Delete
  3. I think that once you can see bios on the vets, this would be a great service - my human, of course, would want to talk with a vet that had more cat experience, and more experience with issues she needed info on! She'd never use it instead of a real, in-person vet visit, of course, but she'd certainly use it to gain more information that she could take to our regular clinic.

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    Replies
    1. We agree, Summer. We think it's very important to know details about a vet before we see them or talk to them. We also look for those that mention felines in particular. Your human sounds like Glogirly... she is always bringing the latest, greatest article or website along with her to share with our vet. And our vet is very interested in what we find... she'll even go online while we're in the exam room to check facts and findings through her professional resources. It pays to be curious and it pays to be informed.

      Delete
  4. We agree with Ann : it's a good compromise, even if it doesn't replace meeting a vet in person. Purrs

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  5. Thanks fur the great info. We live w-a-y far away in the country. We're going fur our shots next week ........

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  6. This can be an excellent second opinion if you aren't sure of your own vets advise.
    But since our vets are only 15 minutes away and they are open 24/7, I doubt I would download it.

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    Replies
    1. Our vet is very close too. Katie and Waffles might say she's *too* close. haha!

      Delete
  7. We agree with your assessment. Chatting with a vet via video could be helpful to determine if a health issue is an emergency or not. But an on-hands exam is best. :)

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  8. The Island Cats said it well. Having a vet to help confirm that you are OK to wait until morning instead of going to emergency vet would be a handy use for something like this. But actually exams and seeing doing what vets are trained to do with hands-on observation is still not something they can reach through the phone and do... yet!

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  9. I have very mixed feeling about services like this one. Cats are already underserved when it comes to getting regular veterinary exams. I worry that services like this one will keep even more cat guardians from taking their cats to the vet. I'm not sure that I agree with your vet that a video chat is better than no veterinary care at all. I'm glad you stressed that this is not a substitute for having a relationship like the one you have with your real life veterinarian.

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    Replies
    1. We thought a lot about this too, Ingrid. We and our vet both agree with you that cats are underserved when it comes to regular care. For us, our relationship we have with our regular vet is one of the most important relationships of all. To us, she's like family.

      Another important reason for a hands-on visit, even something as routine as a wellness visit, is the chance that it may uncover something serious that otherwise would go unnoticed. We all know how stoic cats can be and how skilled they are at hiding pain or other symptoms. The last time we talked with our regular vet, she shared a story of a pet parent that brought their dog in for a regular check up. When the vet examined the inside of the dog's mouth, she discovered some very serious lesions and was able to diagnose what could have been a devastating disease early enough to administer proper treatment. Had that not been discovered, the dog would have likely suffered ... or worse.

      Delete
  10. I agree it is a nice service for people without access to a lot of choices in veterinarians.

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  11. No temperature taken = winning! Love Dolly

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    Replies
    1. hehe!!! Much to Katie's chagrin, Waffles wouldn't have to play 'Where's the Thermometer' (!)

      Delete
  12. Sounds interesting. We would rather video chat with you
    Snorts,
    Lily & Edward

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    Replies
    1. Now THAT would be something to see!!!

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  13. I agree that in some situations, this would be a good resource.
    But from a personal perspective, this is not something I would use for several reasons. We have a regular vet, and while we are considering finding a new one, our current vet knows all of Carmine's complicated medical history. This would take a while to explain to a vet who has not seen him before for a simple health question. Our vet is more than happy to answer general questions for clients without an exam when one is not necessary -- for free. Our local emergency clinics are also happy to discuss symptoms and the issue going on to help determine if a pet needs to be brought in or not in regards to emergencies. The hospital we use is very upfront about our options, how much it will cost, the likelihood that the treatment will help, and if it's not necessary to come in. Also - this service is quite expensive for people with low incomes. If I see that my cat is sick and needs help, I will get him/her to our regular vet ASAP or to a hospital if it's an emergency. To me, spending money to answer health questions when vets and emergency clinics will help you for free - isn't a good business practice. That's my two cents anyway.

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    1. We agree with you, Sierra. Especially when you have a cat with a history of health issues, it's really important to have a vet who understands your pet and even better, has been there with you through it. Like yours, our vet is happy to talk with us on the phone for free. So is the emergency vet in our area that we have used previously. Sometimes we may have to talk with one of the vet techs first, but they will almost always offer to get the vet on the phone for us or have them call us right back. Many people may not even realize their vet is willing to do this for them.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      Delete
  14. Very interesting. I would never use an app to replace a regular vet visit, but I think it could come in handy for back up!

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  15. I really appreciate the ease of this app. I was able to discuss Bentley's problem and received very sound advice. Although I would always take mine to our vet, this is great for those late nights, holidays, and travel.

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  16. I believe it would depend on the situation and what the problem is with your kitty..It is a 30 minute drive to our vet out in the country..but nobody could replace her..oh..and I think if someone can't afford to take their pets to a vet..they are not going to pay $2.50 a minute to talk to one..

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Nancy. We weren't sure whether or not $2.50 per minute would seem reasonable or not. You bring up a very valid point.

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  17. Dat's innewestin'. But like all those advice places, ifin you can afford their fee, you can afford to go to a in purrson vet in our opinion.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Lexi

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  18. Very interesting app. It might be a stepping stone to help a lot of cats that wouldn't normally be taken to the vet to get to the vet. These veterinarians could help cat owners to understand the reasons why it is important for the cat to see a regular veterinarian and even help them learn to approach the cost question with their veterinarian.
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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    Replies
    1. We hope so, Robin. If a pet parent was on the fence about bringing their pet into a clinic and the VetOnDemand veterinarian's advice inspired them to seek out in-person care, that could open the door to more regular care for that pet.

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  19. I don't see much value in this app as a source for general health questions for all the reasons mentioned in the comments. The value I do see is what Robin brought up and that is helping someone decide if they actually need to take their pet to the vet.

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  20. In Sweden the insurance company I have , have an app where you can find nerest vet when you are on the road :)
    Like many have said before me the video app you have I would only use if I had a non emergency question.

    XOXO

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  21. Thanks for the review of this service. I don't think there would be a time when we would need it, and I do think $2.50 per minute is a bit expensive, but I do think it could be a great service is some of the instances you mention.

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  22. We used Vet on Demand and it’s absolutely a life saver. We couldn’t be more happy that such a great service was launched in a mobile app. Thank you for sharing such a detail review, it definitely helps others see the awesome benefits.

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Thank you so much for your comment. We LOVE hearing from you!

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