The RCVS will launch a consultation asking for views from the vet and VN professions on the use of telemedicine in veterinary clinical practice.

Nurse on phone.
Telemedicine is defined by the college as “as any clinical health care service using remote telecommunications services”. IMAGE: Fotolia/Maria Sbytova.

Telemedicine, as defined by the college, is as any clinical health care service using remote telecommunications services.

The aim of the consultation is to help the college develop an appropriate regulatory framework for such services in the veterinary sector. The college’s Code of Professional Conduct and supporting guidance is generally concerned with face-to-face provision of vet services.

Online questionnaire

The consultation, which launches on 13 February, takes the form of an online questionnaire.

It will consider issues such as:

  • who is responsible for veterinary care if provided remotely
  • how “under veterinary care” is defined in the context of the telemedicine
  • the potential risks as well as opportunities for improving animal welfare that may arise out of new technologies
  • regulation of veterinary services provided to clients using remote technologies

Regulatory framework

RCVS chief executive Nick Stace said: “We want the UK’s veterinary surgeons to be at the forefront of innovation and to be making use of, and developing, new technology to extend the reach of veterinary services and, thereby, improve animal welfare.

“However, while the adoption of technology can greatly benefit veterinary services, we also need to develop a regulatory framework that takes into account the questions it poses – in areas such as remote diagnosis and prescribing – to ensure animal health and welfare is the foremost consideration.”

Broad range of views

David Catlow, chairman of the RCVS standards committee that approved the consultation, added: “What we are looking for in this consultation are comments that will help inform a new position for the college on the use of telemedicine.

“I would strongly encourage all members of the profession to engage so we can build a better picture of how this technology is being used, how it might be used in the future and how we can best regulate it.”

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