Understanding Telehealth Decision Support and Telemedicine

If it’s late at night, and something is not quite right with Fido or Fluffy what should you do? If you know your pet is in crisis, we recommend you call or drive directly to your local emergency clinic as soon as possible.

On the other hand, if you’re unsure whether or not your pet needs emergency treatment there is another option that can help.

As a Treatwell member, you get reimbursement for 24/7 telehealth decision support through Whisker Docs, or the provider of your choice.

How does this process work?
  1. Call Whisker Docs at 1.800.873.8838.
  2. Speak to a live veterinary health professional who will answer your questions. As a telehealth decision support service they will be unable to diagnose or treat your pet, but they can help you assess how urgent the situation really is.
  3. Send us a photo or email attachment of the invoice or incident report you receive as a result of this call/chat and we’ll credit your account for the amount you paid (up to four calls per year, per member pet).

Of course, if you know your pet is in crisis, call or drive directly to your local emergency clinic (http://animalemergencyspecialty.ca/).

What is difference between telehealth decision support and telemedicine?

These are relatively new terms in the veterinary field, and sometimes they are used interchangeably even though they are slightly different.

Telemedicine implies the practice of veterinary medicine when the veterinarian is in a different location from the patient. Telehealth decision support provides more general information that helps you better understand your pet’s health and how urgently treatment may be required.

Typically, telehealth decision support occurs outside of what regulators usually refer to as a Veterinary-Patient Client Relationship (VPCR). This means the provider is not able to diagnose, treat, or prescribe medication for your pet. Instead, they are there to answer your questions and help you determine what the best course of action is for you and your pet. This can be very valuable when you’re panicking at 2:00 a.m. after your dog scarfed down that chocolate bar!

Telemedicine, on the other hand, is more comprehensive since it operates within a valid VPCR. This means a licensed veterinarian can use it to treat, diagnose, and prescribe medications for your pet under the right conditions. Veterinarians have actually been doing this for decades when we’ve interacted with previously existing clients over the phone. Now, with advances in communication technology the telemedicine toolbox is becoming even more powerful with the addition of video calls, text messages, and digital imaging.

Treatwell offers the best of both worlds. Our regularly scheduled in-home visits and in-depth knowledge of your pet’s health allow us to use telemedicine to make care for your pet increasingly accessible during business hours. After hours, members receive reimbursement for telehealth decision support through Whisker Docs and other providers.