The disruption to veterinary medicine caused by COVID-19 has been complex and various across different types of practices. Some clinics adjusted hours, reduced staffing or closed altogether. Hospitals have explored new ways to service clients and patients, while also limiting physical contact and their use of paper to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
One company that has observed the impact of COVID-19 on veterinary services is GVL, an animal health software provider for digital animal health records (veterinary prescriptions, rabies certificates, domestic and international health certificates/CVIs, and EIA/Coggins tests to name a few). “There was a six week period of time where digital health certificates in GVL declined by 40% because of the lack of travel,” said GVL’s chief revenue officer, Brett Keirstead. “There was a decrease across all species, but especially in companion animals.” With some states phasing in reopening of business and travel, GVL is seeing more health certificates being issued and a rise in customer support requests. “Starting in May when states began reopening and travel resumed, we saw year-over-year growth in health certificates,” added Brett. “People were just delaying their trips and travel plans, not cancelling them altogether.”
Yet, pet movement and travel look different in this COVID-19 world. Veterinarians and their clients know that it’s still important to be cautious to help prevent further spread of coronavirus. Curbside drop-offs and appointment only hours are helpful, but they don’t take into account the needs for client communication and animal health documentation. While telehealth isn’t a new term to the veterinary industry, it is now more relevant than ever. Just about every veterinary organization in the nation is stressing the importance of telehealth and limiting paper use as much as possible.
The benefits of emailing a certificate rather than delivering a paper copy may seem obvious, but there is more to this greater demand for digital than just COVID-19 safety.
1. But first, COVID-19 safety
The persistence of coronavirus on physical surfaces, especially paper, is reason enough to move toward digital health certificates. Medical authorities have stated that some strains of coronavirus can live anywhere from a few minutes to five days on paper.
“Not only does switching to digital mean you won’t need to print paper certificates, but you also won’t have to mail or hand deliver the copies to clients or necessary parties,” Brett explained.
2. Less trips to the vet
Being able to visit and communicate with their veterinarian online allows clients to request services and treatment, to a certain level. And now that many people are used to doing more online, they will likely continue to expect this convenience moving forward.
“We’ve heard from customers that their clients are requesting online services more and more,” said Brett. “One clinic increased their digital veterinary prescriptions from 3 to 220 in March alone due to client requests who wanted to place their orders online.”
To put it simply: digital services are preferred by many clients to allow them to stay home.
3. Multiple animals on one travel document
Clients who are now taking those delayed trips with their pets should have a health certificate that is current within the last 30 days (many states require them).
Being able to easily access one digital document with all of their animals on it means they only have one copy to keep track of, and if it’s accessible from their phone they’ll never lose it.
4. Multiple destinations for frequent travelers
Many clients with horses may be traveling to multiple destinations, and now likely within a smaller time frame. They want a health certificate that accommodates those plans with one vet visit.
An Extended Equine Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (EECVI) works like a normal health certificate, but allows compliant travel for 6 months instead of 30 days for horses in many states.
5. No lost or damaged certificates
Having access to digital copies of their animal records online means clients will never need new copies. Not only is this convenient for clients, but it also means less after hours calls and re-work for veterinarians.
“One of the things our customers love about GVL is giving their clients online access through MyVetLink,” said Brett. “Clients can access their records anytime they want in their own account without worry, and even email them to their event organizer.”
6. Changing requirements for events
Many local organizations are now requiring digital health certificates and EIA tests (Coggins) for events as a way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. By providing your clients with digital certificates, they will be able to simply email the copies, rather than scanning paper copies to send.
The result: less work for them and you.
7. Preventing unnecessary delays
Not only is the postal system overwhelmed with mail and deliveries right now, but most business offices are not staffed at a normal level because of remote work. These two things combined mean that mail may not be getting where it needs to be in a timely manner, and test submissions and results may be delayed.
Avoid snail mail altogether with digital animal health documentation and testing services. Digital solutions like GVL are in realtime, so the lab receives the test record as soon as the vet sends it, and the vet receives the results as soon as the lab responds.
8. Compliance with state requirements
State animal health officials are responsible for enforcing their rules around movement of animals in or out of their states. Only eight states currently accept 7001 forms, the paper health certificates provided by USDA APHIS. “It is highly unlikely that states will continue to accept paper forms and one can reasonably expect a phase out soon,” said Brett. “GVL digital health certificates are accepted by US states and territories, as well as by all major airlines.”
Now it is more important than ever to ensure people and their accompanying pets have proper, current documentation. By using a digital solution like GVL, your certificates are automatically verified for compliance with state requirements, saving you time on research and helping to prevent errors.
9. Easing your caseload
As business normalizes and veterinarians go back to regularly scheduling services they put on hold, digital solutions can help make working through the backlogged caseload faster and easier.
“While Equine Infectious Anemia testing is important for ensuring the safety and health of horses, many owners do it for travel requirements,” said Brett. “Normally we see a peak in EIA tests during March and April, but now that peak is being pushed to later in the year as travel restrictions loosen.”
Digital services like GVL speed up the creation, validation and sharing of animal health records, as well as the submission and resulting process for tests. Streamline the pent up demand for services with telehealth.
10. Digital is here to stay
One thing we know for sure: telehealth has played a major role and will continue to be important in furthering client satisfaction and safety. Begin exploring digital veterinary service solutions that work for your practice now, so that you can continue to provide great service, ease your workload and encourage safety.
About the GVL veterinary software platform
GVL provides an easy-to-use, cloud-based system for digital animal health records for all species. Thousands of veterinarians save time with GVL, reducing errors and compliance issues, retaining client information and records in a searchable account, and providing clients with online access to their documents.
Digital animal health with GVL includes:
- International pet movement
- Health certificates (CVIs)
- Rabies vaccination certificates
- Veterinary prescriptions
- EIA (Coggins) tests
- EECVIs (6 month equine CVIs)
- Veterinary Feed Directives (VFDs)
- Support seven days a week
Learn more at PattersonVet.com/SignatureSolutions/GVL.