Telemedicine and Burnout
Burnout and the well-being of veterinarians has become a hot topic in our industry recently. We’ve all heard that veterinarians have the highest rate of suicide amongst all occupations, and twice as high as physicians and dentists.
Our jobs involve a multitude of stressors: balancing the needs of our patients against the financial constraints of their owners; managing emergencies, walk-in appointments, and follow-up calls within the confines of an already full schedule; and handling the emotional ups and downs that a normal day brings.
The rapid increase in pet ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortage of veterinary professionals has made us all much busier. Add to this the challenges of curbside care and our stress levels have gone through the roof. Time management and efficient scheduling have taken on critical importance.
How Can Telemedicine Help You?
Before we get there, let’s start by discussing the two types of telemedicine – synchronous and asynchronous.
Synchronous telemedicine involves live video calls, in which clients schedule an appointment to chat with you live to discuss their pet’s care.
In contrast, asynchronous telemedicine is when clients send text, videos, or photos of their pet, and you communicate with them via messaging. This allows convenience and flexibility for both clients and veterinarians.
So how can these two types of telemedicine benefit veterinarians, and help to prevent burnout?
How many times throughout the day are we interrupted with phone calls and questions from clients? And how often do we give advice over the phone or via e-mail without receiving any remuneration at all?
Utilizing telemedicine means that these phone calls and questions can either be channelled into the appointment schedule as synchronous telemedicine appointments or dealt with when convenient via asynchronous telemedicine.
This has two purposes:
1. Better time management – you’re not squeezing that phone call with your most talkative client in between other appointments.
2. No more free advice – you receive remuneration for your time and expertise.
Better Schedule Management
Post-surgical concerns, nutrition consults, chronic disease management, and uncomplicated diarrhea or pruritus are just a few of the concerns that can easily be handled via telemedicine. These appointments are more efficient than in-clinic appointments and allow you to prioritize in-clinic appointments for pets with urgent issues.
If you determine that a patient does need to be seen in the clinic, clients can be informed which diagnostics need to be done and the cost involved before they even walk in the door. These pets can then be immediately admitted so your technicians can quickly and efficiently get started on diagnostics.
Telemedicine: The Wave of the Future
While telemedicine will never replace in-clinic care, using it to its full capability can improve efficiency, decrease burnout, and ensure that you are compensated for your time and expertise. Offering telemedicine at your practice has the potential to decrease stress, improve your quality of life, and improve the level of care you offer your clients.
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