The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we all view the necessity of in-person services. Where some things simply must be done face-to-face, other tasks can be performed just as effectively online or over the phone.
If you are a pet parent, you may have used online or telephone-based veterinary services during the pandemic. While many people began booking virtual appointments out of necessity, the convenience and affordability of these remote vet visits have quickly become apparent.
If you are a pet parent located in the state of New Jersey, you might be wondering whether or not virtual veterinary care is here to stay. To help you understand veterinary telemedicine regulations in your state, we are here to explain everything you need to know!
What is Veterinary Telemedicine?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, telemedicine is a tool of practice rather than a separate discipline within the field of veterinary care. It is the use of telecommunications and other information technologies for delivering professional veterinary services. A primary difference between telemedicine versus other telehealth services is that through telemedicine, vets can prescribe medications to their patients online without an in-person appointment.
It uses technology to link a patient animal and its owner with a qualified and licensed veterinarian for assessment, medical recommendations, and treatment. In simple terms, veterinary telemedicine is a blanket term used to describe the remote interaction between an animal and a vet qualified to work with that animal.
What is the Legal Standing of Veterinary Telemedicine in New Jersey?
As you would expect, rules and regulations differ regarding veterinary telemedicine from one state to another.
In New Jersey, legislation was passed in 2017 that authorized health care services in the state through telemedicine and telehealth; however, the bill failed to address the standing of services provided by veterinarians. This left veterinarians and pet owners in New Jersey unsure about the legal status of veterinary telemedicine in their state.
This all changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, as exceptions were made regarding remote vet services. Since then, government officials and the New Jersey State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners have decided to allow veterinary care through telemedicine to continue beyond the pandemic.
Given the uncertainty that existed regarding veterinary telemedicine in New Jersey, the decision to make the legislation permanent was of great relief to veterinarians and pet parents alike!
Essentially, this recently passed legislation means veterinarians can offer virtual care permanently.
What Does the Legality of Veterinary Telemedicine in New Jersey Mean for Pet Parents?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 11.4 million American families welcomed a new pet into their homes. This number represents a massive spike compared to previous years.
As was the case in other states, many residents of New Jersey brought home new cats, dogs, and other pets during the pandemic. While these new pets offered companionship when many people felt isolated and alone, the surge in pet ownership also increased the demand for veterinary services.
Vet clinics across the state of New Jersey have been struggling to keep up with the rising demand for in-person appointments, resulting in extended wait times and shorter appointments.
According to national statistics, the average amount of time a pet owner has to wait to schedule a vet appointment has nearly doubled due to the rapid rise in pet ownership over the last year. This is just as true in New Jersey as it is in other parts of the country.
Given how frequently puppies and kittens need to visit a vet, it is no surprise that vet clinics throughout the state are experiencing scheduling issues. While this sounds frustrating and somewhat concerning for pet parents, veterinary telemedicine can provide some relief for those in New Jersey now that it is legally available!
What are the Benefits of Veterinary Telemedicine?
While veterinary telemedicine certainly helps relieve some of the pressure on in-person vet clinics, there are plenty of other reasons why pets and their parents might choose to book a virtual vet appointment rather than wait to see a vet in-person.
They Can Triage During Potential Emergency Situations
If you are unsure whether or not your pet’s injury or illness requires immediate attention, a virtual vet can quickly assess the situation and help you decide on the next course of action.
As pet parents, we always worry about the welfare of our beloved pets, which can lead some to panic whenever they suspect something could be wrong. Being able to quickly speak with a vet from the comfort of your own home can save you plenty of stress and, in some cases, even an expensive visit to an emergency clinic.
They Can Offer Professional Answers to Preventative Health Questions.
Many pet owners will book in-person vet appointments so they can ask a vet for professional advice. The pet itself does not need to be seen, but the family might want to know more about ensuring their pet lives a happy and healthy life.
With a virtual vet you can access nutrition consults, new puppy and kitten advice sessions, seasonal prevention consults, and more from the comfort of your own home.
Virtual Appointments Can Be Far Less Stressful for the Animal.
In-person vet appointments can be stressful for some pets, which is particularly true if your furry friend suffers from anxiety. With a virtual vet appointment, your pet is examined and assessed from a familiar and comfortable environment.
Remote Vet Appointments Are Convenient.
Given that they can be conducted around your schedule and from your own home, veterinary telemedicine appointments are incredibly convenient. They are also far more accessible for those that do not have the option to drive to a clinic themselves.
Telemedicine May Be Covered by Your Pet Insurance Plans.
With the rise in virtual care during the pandemic, many pet insurance plans now offer benefits for veterinary telemedicine. Check out our pet owner FAQ’s to see what insurance plans include Hello Ralphie appointments.
If you are interested in the convenience and affordability of veterinary telemedicine, you can sign up for a free Hello Ralphie account. The platform can quickly connect you with licensed veterinarians that can offer advice, at-home remedies, medication, and more.
You can also find out more about how Hello Ralphie works here.