Telehealth for people is widely available and growing in popularity. Now there is telehealth for pets, too.
The new service, launched by a leading pet insurance company, will provide expert answers to pet questions or concerns by using any mobile device—or the telephone—in your home at any time of the day or night.Read More »
Called vethelpline, the subscription service is being offered by Nationwide, which says it is the largest pet insurance company in the United States and insures a million pets in all 50 states.
The service should save pet owners on such costs as veterinary bills, travel expenses, and the need to take time off work as it cuts down on the need to take an animal to a veterinarian’s office for problems that might prove to be minor. In some cases, the condition can be treated by the pet owner without the need to visit a veterinary practice.
By being accessible at all hours of the day and night the service also can help pet owners obtain expert advice when the veterinarian office is likely closed without having to use emergency services.
In cases where the condition is serious, a pet owner can receive advice on how urgent the condition is and when and where the owner should take the pet for treatment.
The service also provides advice for pet owners on the regular care of their specific pet that they might otherwise feel they need to ask a veterinarian in person to obtain.
Democratizes pet health care
The service is an effort to democratize health care for pets, says Heidi Sirota, chief pet officer at Nationwide. It helps all families with pets to experience improved lives together, she adds.
Pet families have a variety of needs, preferences, and budgets relating to the management of the care of their animals. The new telehealth service makes live and expert advice on pet health easily accessible, Sirota says.
The new telehealth service offers these services to subscribers:
• Advice from veterinary experts who will answer general questions or will identify care that needs urgent attention by means of chats through an application or telephone consultation.
• Sharing of photographs of your pet through a mobile device application and click-to-call functions that can help in discussing issues relating to your pet with staff members.
• A list of articles that relate to the topics most often asked for by pet owners. The catalog will include safety and health tips for cats and dogs.
In addition, Nationwide says, the service will be able to provide guidance on the general health of a pet, its wellbeing and its behavior. Staff will be able to address emergency, critical care, and toxicology concerns.
Nationwide points out that experts on vethelpline, will not prescribe medications or diagnose specific conditions.
A call or chat can help veterinary teams and parents, however, by:
• Providing help and guidance when a problem with a pet is nothing to be concerned about;
• Coming up with suggestions on care that can be given in the home and that will treat the pet until the pet can be taken to be seen by a veterinarian;
• Sorting issues on pet health into categories such as “can wait a while,” “needs next-day treatment”, or “this is an emergency”;
• Keeping communication lines with a family veterinary office clear through the provision of routine answers to questions on pet care.
Offered through subscriptions
The service is offered through subscriptions that cover services for three months or six months or are provided on a monthly basis with unlimited calls.
The vethelpline service is also included as a benefit to those pet owners who have insurance coverage with Nationwide.