Telemedicine has become an important avenue in human medicine whereas the veterinary profession has lagged behind our human-medicine counterparts. Telemedicine/telehealth is a valuable tool to connect veterinarians with their clients/patients. The difference between telemedicine and telehealth is the Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR). Telehealth is an technological method where there is not a current VCPR and the veterinarian can only offer generalized medical advice, guide the pet owner, triage, educate, and provide support whereas telemedicine is for clients with an established VCPR and the veterinary can diagnose, prescribe and treat via a technological platform or app. Due to current events, federal and state agencies are relaxing the VCPR standards so we can help more pets in need.
The AVMA (3/24/2020) issued the following guidance for the veterinary community:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance this morning that temporarily suspends the enforcement of a portion of the federal veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) requirements.
The guidance change, effective immediately (3/24/2020), applies to extralabel drug use and the issuing of veterinary feed directives (VFD). It aims to “facilitate veterinary telemedicine during the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to the FDA. Individual state VCPR requirements may continue to exist, according to the guidance.
Specifically, FDA indicated that it generally intends to not enforce the animal examination and premises visit VCPR requirements relevant to FDA regulations governing extralabel drug use in animals and veterinary feed directives (VFD). In its guidance FDA also indicated its intent to reassess its plan periodically and provide revision or withdrawal of the guidance as necessary.
“The FDA recognizes the vital role veterinarians play in protecting public health,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., said in a prepared statement. “During this time, we need to provide veterinarians with the latitude to expand the use of telemedicine in the care of animals, not only pets but also the animals that produce our food.”
Dear Veterinary Licensee:
On April 1, 2020, Gov. Jared Polis issued Executive Order D2020 020, Ordering the Temporary Suspension of Certain Statutes to Expand the Use of Telehealth Services Due to the Presence of COVID-19.
Among the directives, aimed at protecting the public health and mitigating exposure to and the spread of Coronavirus, is the temporary suspension of the requirements in C.R.S. §12-315-104(19)(b) that “a veterinarian-client patient relationship is established when the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal by virtue of an examination of the animal or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept.”
The Order states that the use of telehealth services, including low-cost telephone, internet, audio-only, and live video, are widely available and accessible to healthcare providers – including veterinarians – and patients, and that Colorado healthcare providers must be able to use telehealth services whenever possible.
We are working diligently to issue regulatory guidance in the coming days to provide you with further clarity related to the Order. As further guidance on the use of telehealth services is forthcoming, please check your email regularly and DORA’s COVID-19 informational website for these updates as they become available.
We have decided to start doing telemedicine appointments for our clients and have begun working closely with an excellent company called AIRVET. It’s very simple to use. Download the pet parent app, set up your profile, and find the Animal Care Center of Castle Pines and request a call back. We may communicate to you a time during the day that we are available for a consultation. Our hours will be Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 10 pm and Sunday from 9 am until 3 pm. We look forward to keeping our commitment that every pet deserves world class care.