To assess small animal general practice veterinarians' use and perceptions of synchronous video-based telemedicine before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
550 respondent veterinarian members of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN).
An anonymous online survey was used to gather data from VIN-member veterinarians in small animal general practice regarding their perceptions and use of synchronous video-based telemedicine. Two emails to all VIN members were used to distribute the web-based questionnaire. For consistency, only responses from North American veterinarians who reported working in small animal general practice were included in analyses. Responses were collected between September 28, 2020, and October 21, 2020.
There were 69,488 recipients and 680 respondents (1.0% response rate), 550 of whom had North American internet protocol addresses and reported working in small animal general practice. Not all respondents answered all questions. Use of video-based telemedicine substantially increased among respondents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and most (86/130 [66.2%]) reported little to no difficulty in adopting videoconferencing. Respondents also reported that telemedicine took less time (61/135 [45.2%]) and resulted in less financial compensation (103/135 [76.3%]) than in-person consultation. Several respondents reported concerns regarding legal issues and potential inferiorities of telemedicine.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Our results indicated that a substantial proportion of respondents incorporated synchronous video-based telemedicine into their practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite low perceived difficulty in adopting videoconferencing telemedicine, many planned to discontinue it for some clinical applications once the pandemic is over. Further research is required to elucidate the perceptions and challenges in successful use of veterinary telemedicine.
OBJECTIVE To evaluate owner satisfaction with a home-based, synchronous videoconferencing telemedicine application as an alternative to in-clinic appointments for conducting recheck examinations after surgical sterilization in dogs.
DESIGN Randomized controlled clinical trial.
ANIMALS 30 client-owned dogs undergoing elective surgical sterilization and postsurgical recheck examination between September 27, 2017, and February 23, 2018.
PROCEDURES Dogs were randomly assigned to have their recheck examinations performed remotely (the telemedicine group) or at the veterinary clinic (the control group). After the recheck examination, owners completed a survey regarding their satisfaction with the recheck examination and their dogs' behavior during it. Information regarding the surgery and recheck examination was obtained from the electronic medical record. Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare results between the telemedicine and control groups.
RESULTS Owners were equally satisfied with recheck examinations performed by videoconference and in-clinic appointments. Owners of dogs in the telemedicine group indicated that their dogs were less afraid during the virtual appointment, compared with what was typical for them during in-clinic appointments, but the difference was not statistically significant. Most owners who completed a postsurgical recheck examination by videoconferencing preferred this method for similar appointments in the future.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested that owners were satisfied with videoconferencing as a means of conducting a postsurgical recheck examination. Further research is needed to assess videoconferencing's ability to reduce signs of fear in dogs during veterinary examinations, its economic feasibility, and the willingness of veterinarians and animal owners to adopt the technology.