We are now offering video consultations between 8am and 11pm seven days a week
Vets Now has extended the opening hours of its video consultation service to keep up with demand from pet owners.
As the UK’s leading emergency vet with more than 60 pet emergency clinics and hospitals across the UK, we launched Video Vet just as the coronavirus lockdown began.
It allows pet owners to speak to a qualified emergency vet on their mobile, tablet or laptop, from the comfort of their home, and if their pet needs to be seen for treatment at a Vets Now clinic or hospital, they are refunded the £24 consultation fee.
Demand has been exceptional, with almost 1000 video calls from worried pet owners.
Head of clinical intelligence at Vets Now, Dave Leicester, who oversees the service, said: “We fast-tracked our plans for Video Vet in response to Covid-19 as we knew how much pet owners were relying on remote veterinary advice.
“In the beginning, the service was only available out of hours but the demand was so high we extended this to 8am to 11pm every day. It’s designed to give pet owners peace of mind without having to leave their home.
“Its success is built on the premise that if our online emergency vets can’t resolve the pet owner’s concerns during the online consultation, the fee they pay will come off the treatment bill in clinic. It’s a win-win for pet owners.
“It also benefits vets and vet nurses as it allows both the daytime practices we partner with and our own network of out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals to triage cases so the sickest pets can be prioritised.”
The Covid-19 lockdown has driven a boom in the use of healthcare apps in human medicine.
But pet owners are also benefitting from innovations in the veterinary industry.
In recent weeks, Vets Now has also launched a voice assistant skill — available on Alexa and Google Home — which uses artificial intelligence to help worried pet owners decide on a next step if their dog or cat is unwell.
It has also added to its huge bank of vet-authored content on its website.
Dave said: “We wanted to make veterinary advice accessible to everyone, through as many channels as possible, including our website, Video Vet service, and smart speakers.
“One of the unforeseen consequences of this awful pandemic has been the rise in popularity of video conferencing platforms and, as a result, people have become more proficient with the technology.
“Having the technological capability to offer online consultations, where appropriate, will be beneficial for pet owners long after this pandemic has ended.”
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Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many veterinary businesses had begun moving towards using “health tech” apps and platforms.
This followed an announcement by the RCVS that it was actively considering whether to update some of its rules around so-called telemedicine.
Dave added: “The issue of telemedicine has been controversial, particularly around the impact it might have on rural practices and the potential for misdiagnosis. Despite a temporary relaxation in the regulations regarding remote prescribing during the pandemic, the obligation to ensure safe and ethical care is an overriding principle. Unquestionably though, appropriately managed, the advantages far outweigh the potential risks.
“Fundamentally, it offers pet owners easy, and often immediate, access to an experienced veterinarian without having to undergo a stressful trip in the car or on public transport. This can only be good for pets.
“There is no prospect of online consultations taking over from face-to-face consults. Pets who require veterinary treatment will still need to be seen at a clinic or hospital. But they will only have to go when they need to go.”
Find out more about our Video Vet service here.