Consultation will inform new regulatory framework
A consultation seeking the views of veterinary and nursing professionals on the use of telemedicine in clinical practice is to be launched by the RCVS.
Telemedicine is the distribution of any clinical healthcare service that is provided using remote telecommunications services.
Early forms of telecommunication technology include the telegraph, radio and telephone. Today, the field is changing fast. Not only does the technology exist for live video chats, like Skype and FaceTime, but much of the population has access to a computer or smartphone to use them.
The RCVS says that the aim of the consultation is to receive feedback to help the College put together an appropriate regulatory framework for such services in the veterinary sector. Currently, the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct and supporting guidance is mostly concerned with face-to-face consults.
The consultation launches on Monday 13 February and will take the form of an online questionnaire. It will consider who is responsible for remote veterinary care, how ‘under veterinary care’ is defined in the context of telecommunication, and the potential risks as well as opportunities for improving animal welfare that may arise. The questionnaire will also look at the appropriate regulation of veterinary services provided to clients using new remote technologies.
“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,” commented Nick Stace, RCVS chief executive.
“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, for example, in areas such as remote diagnosis and prescribing, to ensure that animal health and welfare is the foremost consideration.”
David Catlow, chair of the RCVS Standards Committee, 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. There are questions that need to be answered around the principles of using telemedicine and we hope that we will get the views of a broad range of the profession.
“I would strongly encourage all members of the profession to engage with this survey so that we can build a better picture of how this technology is currently being used, how it might be used in the future and how we can best regulate it.”
The consultation starts on Monday 13 February and will run for six weeks. To access the questionnaire visit rcvs.org.uk/telemedicine.