• Rachael Paul - Director

3 Tips for Effective Video Consults

Veterinary practice has always been a hands-on profession, it’s simply the nature of the work. So when lockdown happened, and social distancing measures were introduced, it meant Vets had to try adapt to the new normal. Government suggested virtual consults using video conferencing technology. It’ll never be the same a physical consult, but in terms of being able to maintain an open and operating practice, it’s certainly the next best thing.

To successfully adapt to virtual consulting, here are our top tips:

1. Select Your Platform Carefully

As video conferencing becomes the norm, more platforms are offering this as a feature. Previously the main platforms used were Skype, Zoom or Whatsapp video. Recently Google and Facebook have both rolled out video calling for users. When considering which platform to use, take the following into consideration:

  • Which platform will be most convenient to use? Most clients will probably use their phones for the virtual consult. On the other hand you’ll probably be sitting at your desk so that you have a larger format to view. Fortunately, almost all of these apps are available on both desktop and mobile apps, but you may want to limit your choice to one or two options so that you’re not having to install too many additional apps.

  • Security – While no platform is 100% secure, Whatsapp and Skype use end to end encryption which offers a greater level of security. Zoom reportedly recently suffered a security breach which left user accounts vulnerable. It may be a good idea to create a separate email address and get a separate number to use exclusively for video consulting. That way you reduce the cyber security risks to the business or personal accounts.  

  • Booking appointments – Scheduling will assist you in managing your time and sending out reminders to clients. But not all platforms have a scheduling facility so keep this in mind when making a selection. 

2. Decide on the Virtual Consult Structure

  • Consulting hours - In the same way as you’d normally have hours set aside for consultations and surgery, consider when would be the best times for virtual consults. The easiest may be to simply match your previous consulting hours as clients will already be familiar with this.

  • Time slots and reminders - It may be useful to use a video platform that allows scheduling so that you can allocate time slots to clients and have confirmed appointments. When the appointment confirmation is sent out be sure to remind clients to keep to their time slots and advise the time limit so that other clients are not kept waiting.

  • What can be consulted on? - As part of general information on virtual consulting, advise what type of conditions virtual consults can be used for, and which may require clients to bring their pets in for a more detailed consult.

  • Payment options: Billing is another consideration. Do you have a mechanism for clients to pay online using credit cards or what other forms of payment will be accepted.

3. Making the Most of the Consult Time

Clients are likely to be nervous of a virtual consult as it’s not something they’re used to. It’s up to you to assure them that they’re getting access to the same level of expertise, the only difference is that you’re not in the same room. If you conduct the consult in the same way as you would in person, you’ll soon gain their confidence. 

While it’s not the ideal way to operate, video consulting is an option that may actually prove to be very efficient for veterinary practices going forward. Embracing technology and getting clients accustomed to using it can be beneficial for both the practice and Vets alike.

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