Telehealth Q&A with Dr. Will Draper

Please share an obstacle that you have overcome as a veterinarian or as a hospital owner in using Telehealth?

One of the mantras of our practice is to be available to our clients as often as possible- even away from the hospital. With that, we’ve earned a reputation of accessibility, and our clients have become accustomed to courtesy remote discussions and recommendations for their pets. With that, I was very hesitant to introduce telemedicine out of concern that my long term, loyal clients would balk at suddenly being asked to pay for something they’d enjoyed as a luxury for the last 20 years. We finally decided in early 2020 to give telemedicine a try, as we realized the convenience of being able to communicate with clients as we have been, with the benefit of that communication now being a part of the patient record (where in the past we’d have to make it a point to remember to enter notes as soon as possible). Little did we know that we were heading into to a pandemic state, where this service would become invaluable for our clients and patients. It made the transition, and acceptance of this modality, much easier for both our practice and our clients. We’ve been offering remote medicine for about 9 months now, and it’s quickly become a mainstay of our practice group.

Please share how Telehealth has improved your client experience or quality of care?

Telehealth has allowed us to provide services for many medical conditions that can be treated without clients having to bring their pets into the hospital; skin conditions, ear infections, mild gastrointestinal, respiratory, or musculoskeletal issues. In addition, it also allows us the opportunity, when applicable, to direct clients to take their pets in to be physically seen in those situations where they are mainly wondering what their next steps should be- those conditions that are extend beyond tele-medical capability (i.e. toxic or foreign body ingestion, ocular conditions, lacerations, non-weight bearing lameness, etc.). Clients appreciate our expertise here as much as anywhere. And- I’ve completed telehealth consults from my office in the hospital, from my kitchen table at home, even from a boat on Lake Hartwell. That’s pretty awesome:).

Please share your thoughts on the impact of Telehealth as it relates to veterinary care or the business of your veterinary hospital?

Any service that allows us to offer advice, service and care to our clients, especially beyond the walls of our brick and mortar, is invaluable. We’ve attracted new clients simply because a friend recommended they reach out to us for a remote consult when their present veterinary provider didn’t offer the service. In these cases we cannot provide diagnosis or prescriptions due to state and federal regulations (in Georgia, a physical veterinary-client-patient-relationship much have been satisfied in the previous 18 months to comply), however we do direct them to our 24 hour hospital for care, which most times translates into their becoming clients/patients with us. Furthermore, it is especially valuable for all parties as we practice safety and social distancing in our present world. To be able to provide service and care remotely, while also keeping clients, ourselves, and our relative families and contacts safe- it’s a win-win.

Please share any other thoughts, ideas, strategies or input your have for the Harbor Community on Telehealth?

I would strongly encourage any practice who has considered flipping the switch on telehealth to take the leap. You will quickly appreciate what it provides for your clients and your team, and like me will wish you’d started offering this service long before you did:).


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