Advocacy group sees a bright future for remote care
The Veterinary Virtual Care Association wants to take telemedicine to the next level — and beyond.
The Veterinary Virtual Care Association wants to do for veterinary medicine what the 27-year-old American Telemedicine Association has accomplished in human medicine. That is, as the ATA says, “change the way the world thinks about health care.”
The newly established veterinary organization aims to make virtual care — a term encompassing telemedicine, teletriage and everything else that veterinary professionals do or might do remotely — as common as an in-clinic wellness visit.
“In five years, the vast, vast majority of practitioners will utilize telemedicine and broaden virtual care beyond what you do with a smartphone,” said Mark Cushing, JD, a founding member of the Veterinary Virtual Care Association (VVCA). “I think you’re going to see the states, one by one, remove barriers to doing it, realizing it’s safe, effective and proven. That’s what happened in human medicine. I don’t see any reason why the same path won’t be taken in veterinary medicine.”
Regulated by state boards and constrained by rules governing the veterinarian-client-patient relationship, veterinary virtual care has grown by baby steps as the human variety evolved into a giant.
“We expect to work with organizations like the AAVSB (Association of American Veterinary State Boards) and the Veterinary Innovation Council,” Cushing said. “Both have promoted veterinary versions of the human telemedicine rules, which have made it much easier for doctors to engage with clients through digital tools.
“The primary purpose of VVCA is sharing best practices and creating standards and policies to guide how you do telemedicine, how you do it effectively, what works best for consumers and what works best for veterinary teams.”
The organization’s leadership is made up of Cushing, the founder and CEO of the Animal Policy Group, and 10 other industry veterans:
- Cheryl Good, DVM, a Michigan practice owner and immediate past president of the North American Veterinary Community, publisher of Today’s Veterinary Business.
- Eleanor M. Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP, the Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
- Jason W. Johnson, DVM, MS, DACT, the dean and a founding faculty member of the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Charlotte Lacroix, DVM, JD, a former NAVC president and the founder of Veterinary Business Advisors.
- Deb Leon, the CEO of whiskerDocs.com.
- Kerri Marshall, DVM, MBA, the chief information officer at Compassion-First Pet Hospitals.
- Aaron Smiley, DVM, an Indiana veterinarian and president of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association.
- Bruce L. Truman, MBA, the vice president of business development at BabelBark.
- Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, CVJ, a San Diego veterinarian, author and speaker.
- Audrey Wystrach, DVM, the founder and CEO of One.Vet.
Cushing, a Today’s Veterinary Business columnist, and Drs. Green and Lacroix serve on the magazine’s editorial advisory board.
VVCA intends to hire an executive director to run day-to-day operations. Funding will come from dues-paying members and corporate sponsors. The first year of membership is free for anyone who registers before Dec. 31, 2020, at www.vvca.org.
Cushing didn’t rule out the possibility of VVCA expanding overseas at some point.
“We’ll start with U.S. and Canada,” he said, “but to the extent there are like-minded associations in other countries, we’ll find a way to affiliate and see what the interest is across both oceans.”
The VVCA released a letter of introduction and answers to frequently asked questions.
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