With everyone in lockdown to avoid the spread of COVID-19, doctors and nurses turned to telehealth as a healthcare solution. Virtual interactions between patient and provider offered both a safe and efficient way for people to access care. But we aren’t the only ones seeking medical services. Our pets need ongoing care as well. Therefore, it’s not that surprising that pet telehealth has also thrived as a result of the pandemic. And it looks like virtual vet services are here to stay.
When businesses were forced to close their doors, several explored online or virtual options to meet client needs. Veterinarians were no different. Many explored online videoconferencing through Google, Skype, Zoom, and other platform and had great success. And this success has continued even as lockdowns have been lifted. In fact, many veterinarians are now looking to include pet telehealth in their menu of services. And a number of virtual vet services companies are now available from which to choose.
“We want to build healthier relationships between vets and their clients so that both have peace of mind.” – Steven Carter, Co-Founder and CEO of TeleVet
Recent Developments in Virtual Vet Services
With the boost that pet telehealth has seen recently, investors are becoming increasingly bullish on these new technologies. This month, TeleVet announced that it had received an additional $5 million in Series A funding. The 5-year-old, Austin-based company plans to double its number of employees with the additional monies. The focus of its new staff will be on improving customer relations management for veterinarians and their overall work-life balance. With a total of $7.3 million in venture capital already, TeleVet is one of the market leaders in virtual vet services.
Mercury Fund and the other 4 investors responsible for TeleVet’s recent good fortune notably sees potential in pet telehealth. And for good reason. Major veterinary chains in New York City have reported growth of virtual vet services by 200 percent a month. Initially, this boom was attributed to COVID-19 and its associated restrictions. But after the lockdowns ended, telehealth visits continued to rise. In fact, some vet offices are reporting that their virtual appointment schedules are at 80 to 90 percent capacity already.
“TeleVet meets a driving need in the veterinary industry, not only for a complete, end-to-end virtual care platform, but for a tool that fundamentally enhances quality of life for veterinarians.” – Blair Garrou, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Mercury Fund
Pet Telehealth Is More Than Pet Videoconferencing
One of the reasons TeleVet is one of the most prominent virtual vet services is its broad range of offerings. Certainly, its app-based platform allows instant messaging and video-phone communications between pet owners and providers. But in addition, TeleVet also offers electronic health records, billing functions, prescription ordering, and examination documentation. These features have attracted a large number of veterinarians to sign up for TeleVet services. In fact, the company now has over 6,500 veterinarians within its pet telehealth network. Its comprehensive platform is what attracts many of these pet providers.
One of the shortcomings that TeleVet still sees involves the ability of veterinarians to develop better customer relationships. This is a notable issue for pet telehealth for a couple of reasons. For one, virtual vet services are not as effective as in-person visits in allowing vets to connect with pets or their owners. And like young pediatric patients, pets are unable to express their complaints verbally to veterinarians. As a result, remote digital interactions pose some challenges. But these are the ones TeleVet hopes to address with its additional funding.
“The patient can’t communicate, can’t speak, which puts certain limitations on primary care with telehealth.” – Kelly Shane, CEO of Destination Pet
Increasing Competition in the Market
While TeleVet is one of the leading virtual vet services, it is not the only one. In fact, several other pet telehealth companies now exist and are competing for market share. Increasingly, these companies are expanding their features to meet evolving needs of veterinarians as well as their clients. The following are some of the more reputable businesses in the pet telehealth industry today:
- Vet Now – This app-based pet telehealth platform was created by Dr. Apryle Horbal in an effort to alleviate a shortage of veterinarians. Though initially based in Pittsburgh, Horbal has since partnered with several universities as well as the Smithsonian National Zoo. Vet Now offers an extensive integration of software that includes more than virtual vet services that interact with pet owners. It also includes records management, office management, and collaborative care opportunities among veterinarians.
- Tele Tails – As another app-based platform, Tele Tails also offers veterinarians and pet owners flexibility and mobility. It not only provides live video and messaging feeds between providers and clients. It also facilitates client payments and allows seamless billing and appointment scheduling. Tele Tails overall mission is to improve access to care for pets and their owners while also improving outcomes. As a result, the company has attracted a sizable network of veterinary providers.
- Anipanion – Based in San Diego, Anipanion offers veterinarians an affordable option for pet telehealth. The app-based platform starts at $99 a month for veterinary providers and includes video calls and chats. These are best utilized for post-op check-ins, routine visits, and emergency triage decisions. And for more comprehensive veterinary practice services, additional options are available.
A True Win-Win Situation
Pet owners are crazy about their pets, which is one reason pet apps have been increasing lately. Pet owners also want to provide their furry loved ones with good care. However, going to the veterinarian is stressful for owner and pet alike. Pet telehealth offers a great solution that can help avoid such stress in many instances. In fact, half of all veterinarian appointments could be handled well through virtual vet services. This shows how companies like TeleVet and others are created a win-win scenario for veterinarians, pets and pet owners alike. And it’s a reason why such companies attracting investor attention in a post-COVID world.