The Pros and Cons of the Virtual VCPR
As technology continues to advance, the veterinary profession is evolving to embrace virtual client-patient relationships. This shift brings both benefits and challenges for veterinarians and their private practices. In this blog, we’ll explore the pros and cons of virtual veterinary care and examine how it may impact the profession as a whole and individual private practitioners. But first, let’s review the definition of the Veterinary Client Patient Relationship.
Veterinary client patient relationship (VCPR) is the professional relationship between a veterinarian, their client, and their patient. The VCPR is the basis for interaction among veterinarians, clients, and patients and is critical for ensuring that proper veterinary medical care is delivered. The VCPR is established when the veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animal and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions.
The AAVSB states that the VCPR requires:
1) Both the Veterinarian and Client agree for the Veterinarian to assume responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of the Animal(s); and
2) The Veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the Animal(s) to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the Animal(s); and
3) The practicing Veterinarian is readily available for follow-up in case of adverse reactions or failure of the regimen of therapy.
What are the most talked about pro arguments for a virtual veterinary client patient relationship?
- Increased Accessibility: Virtual care expands access to veterinary services, particularly for clients in remote areas or those with limited mobility. It ensures that pets receive timely care, consultations, and follow-ups, regardless of geographical constraints.
- Enhanced Convenience: Virtual visits eliminate the need for clients to travel, reducing stress on both pets and their owners. They can seek advice or schedule appointments from the comfort of their homes, promoting convenience and minimizing disruptions to their daily routines.
- Cost Savings: Virtual care often comes at a lower cost compared to in-person visits. Clients can save on transportation expenses, and veterinarians can offer more affordable options for routine check-ups, minor ailments, or follow-up consultations, increasing accessibility to care.
- Improved Client Education: Virtual platforms provide an opportunity for veterinarians to educate clients more effectively. Through video consultations and online resources, they can demonstrate proper techniques, provide educational materials, and ensure clients have a clear understanding of their pets’ health conditions and treatment plans.
What are the most talked about cons of Virtual Veterinary Client-Patient Relationships?
- Limited Physical Examination: One of the primary challenges of virtual care is the inability to conduct a thorough physical examination. Diagnosing certain conditions and assessing a pet’s overall health may be more challenging without the ability to perform hands-on evaluations, potentially leading to missed or delayed diagnoses.
- Technology Limitations: Technical difficulties, such as poor internet connections or hardware malfunctions, can hinder effective communication and compromise the quality of virtual consultations. Dependence on technology also poses the risk of security breaches or privacy concerns, requiring careful implementation of secure platforms and data protection measures.
- Reduced Personal Connection: In virtual interactions, the personal connection between veterinarians, clients, and their pets may be compromised. The absence of physical touch and in-person interaction can impact the bond and trust-building process, which are essential components of the veterinary-client relationship.
- Impact on Revenue for Private Practitioners: Virtual care can disrupt the traditional revenue streams for private practitioners. With lower consultation fees and a potential decrease in in-person visits, practices may need to adapt their business models, diversify services, or adjust pricing structures to maintain financial viability.
What will the impact on the veterinary practitioner and the profession be if a virtual VCPR is allowed:
The adoption of a virtual Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) has the potential to significantly change the scope of the veterinary profession. By leveraging technology to facilitate remote consultations and care, veterinarians can reach a broader audience and provide their expertise beyond the constraints of physical location. This expansion of reach allows for greater access to veterinary services, especially for clients in rural or underserved areas. Additionally, virtual VCPR encourages collaboration and knowledge-sharing among veterinary professionals, as they can connect with colleagues from around the world to discuss complex cases and seek specialized opinions. However, this shift also requires the profession to adapt to new regulations, guidelines, and ethical considerations specific to virtual care. The scope of the veterinary profession may encompass the integration of telemedicine technologies, the development of secure platforms for confidential data sharing, and the continuous training and education necessary to stay updated on emerging technologies and best practices in virtual care. Ultimately, the virtual VCPR has the potential to revolutionize the veterinary profession by expanding its reach, enhancing collaboration, and driving innovation in the delivery of veterinary services.
It is essential for veterinarians to recognize that the adoption of a virtual Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) is not only likely but also necessary to meet the evolving needs of our clientele. The availability of advanced technology and the challenges we face in professional staffing make it clear that embracing virtual care is a viable solution. It is crucial, however, to emphasize that advocating for a virtual VCPR is not about changing the way veterinarians practice medicine but rather revolutionizing the way they communicate and connect with clients. Virtual care does not mandate diagnosing and treating every case online; rather, it offers an additional avenue for communication, education, and remote consultations when appropriate. By opening our minds to the numerous benefits and possibilities that virtual care brings to our profession, we can create a new model of connected care that enhances client satisfaction, expands access to veterinary services, and ultimately improves the overall health and well-being of our animal patients.