Source: AVMA

The debate over establishing a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) through in-person examinations versus solely electronic means is unfolding in state legislatures and Veterinary medical boards. Advocates of a virtual VCPR argue that it could improve access to Veterinary care, but many veterinarians are skeptical, as most animal care, particularly preventive care tailored to individual circumstances, necessitates in-person visits. Twenty-two states have laws or regulations explicitly requiring in-person examinations or visits to the location where animals are kept to establish a VCPR. Telehealth in Veterinary medicine increased during the COVID-19 pandemic but has slowed since in-person visits resumed. Some veterinarians and telemedicine companies seek to expand telemedicine to new patients and are working on changing state regulations.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) strongly supports an in-person VCPR before utilizing telemedicine, emphasizing the importance of physical examinations and diagnostic tests. Several other Veterinary organizations also endorse the in-person VCPR, as this relationship can be supplemented with electronic communication and remote care to enhance animal welfare and biosecurity. The AVMA and allied organizations are part of the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care, which promotes the use of telehealth while preserving the integrity of the VCPR. Concerns include the rise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) telemedicine companies potentially prioritizing profit over care, similar to issues in human medicine.

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