VetHelpDirect has announced that due to the coronavirus outbreak, it is bringing forward the roll-out of its new platform through which veterinary surgeons can offer paid-for remote video consultations to their clients.

If, as is predicted, social distancing methods need to be employed to reduce the spread of the virus, or clients find themselves having to self-isolate, video consultations may offer a way in which veterinary practices can continue to serve their clients, maintain animal welfare and, importantly, revenue.

VetHelpDirect's video consultation system, which was announced earlier this year, is still in the Beta testing phase, and the plan had been to roll out the full service in May.

Under the circumstances, however, the company has decided to offer the service to all practices immediately, free of charge for the next three months. 

To use the video consultation service, you do need to subscribe to use VetHelpDirect, a service through which you can manage client reviews of your practice. That costs £38 per month, per practice and a further £12.50 for branch practices. 

Susie Samuel, CEO of VetHelpDirect said: “The Coronavirus presents a very real business risk to veterinary practices and a health risk to staff.

"As cases increase, animal owners in quarantine will not be able to visit the vet when their animals become unwell. In these cases, veterinary practitioners will not be able to discuss an animal’s symptoms with their owner in person and could end up relying solely on telephone consultations which would most likely be conducted free of charge.

"Our video platform allows vets to collect payment for a consultation as usual, hold the consultation with the animal’s owner and if a pet needs to be seen, the owner could, in theory, drop it off at the surgery without making personal contact with the vet clinic staff." 

VetHelpDirect has not yet decided precisely what the video consultation service will cost after the free period, but it is likely to be around the £20 per month mark. In addition, there is a 3% transaction fee charged by the payment processer.

For more information, contact Susie Samuel

Despite the emergence of a number of online-only, limited-service veterinary video consultation providers, it seems like very few, if any independent practices are yet offering this service. There is a danger that unless they do so very soon, they will find themselves at a real disadvantage to the first movers. But there is still time; according to VetHelpDirect's research, 38% of people say they would use video consultations with their own vet but only 7% with a vet they don't know..

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