Under the initiative, the Cambridge-based company has organised an extensive network of European or US diploma-holding specialists from around the world to provide a round‑the‑clock rota of experts from a “virtual hospital” to give advice to frontline GPs.
Areas of specialisation include internal medicine, critical care, neurology, soft tissue surgery, orthopaedics and ophthalmology. Diploma holders are based in the UK, mainland Europe, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Play our part
Victoria Johnson, a European veterinary specialist in diagnostic imaging and director at VetCT, said: ”We have been running a telemedicine hospital for the past couple of years and in recent weeks have seen the calls changing – vets are worried, isolated and need support, particularly with emergency cases.
“We wanted to play our small part in trying to help with this situation, so we came up with the idea of instant specialist support for vets 24 hours a day. This was the basis of the campaign.”
‘Amazing and moving’
She added: “Then, out of the blue, some of the specialists got in touch to offer to give their time for free to help with this campaign. This was totally unexpected and completely bowled us over.
“Overall, it has been amazing and moving to see how much vets care about our profession, and how much they want to support their colleagues.
“Many have told us that they have been watching the human medical profession come together in a quite extraordinary way during this crisis – vets want to do the same.”
Asked whether the lockdown had shown telemedicine is the way forward for the profession, Ms Johnson replied: “Telemedicine has an important role to play in the profession, but must be carefully defined, regulated and delivered in a very high-quality manner. There are lots of complexities in managing remote medicine, and it is important to approach this evolving field with care and consideration.
“In our opinion, telemedicine will never be a replacement for physical examination of a patient, and it is much harder to build bonds over telephone calls and video chats. When we speak with vets, we always recommend a physical referral to a specialist wherever possible.
“Our campaign is aimed at helping those patients that cannot be referred physically to a specialist, but where specialist input can make a real difference to outcome.”
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