Technology: some people welcome it with open arms, and some fear the change that comes along with it. In veterinary medicine, technology has certainly made its mark on our daily lives, both in positive and negative ways. How is technology helping (and hurting) vet med?
1. hurting: Dr google
We've all met someone who has earned a self-proclaimed veterinary degree via internet search. It can be frustrating when clients (or even friend and family members) think they know as much (or more) about a diagnosis or treatment plan than you do. Try to take the perspective of being grateful that they care enough about their pet to do the research on their own (even if some of their information is unfounded). It's better to deal with a pet owner who truly cares about their pet than one who couldn't care less, right?
2. helping: sharing information
A huge benefit of technology is its ability to bring people together. There are countless Facebook groups for veterinary professionals to share stories, information, and ideas. They're a place to vent with a group of people who genuinely understand the trials and tribulations we all deal with on a daily basis. And it's not just colleagues you can share information with across the web; client portals, social media accounts, and email reminders are a great way to keep in touch with your client base.
3. Hurting: Bad online reviews
If you've ever gotten a bad online review (and let's face it, everyone has at one point or another), it can affect your practice's image and your team's morale. But don't fret! There are things you can do to mitigate the situation and actually make your practice look better if you handle it right. Lifelearn has a great article on how to do just that.
4. Helping: Equipment magic
The technological advancements made in medical equipment and diagnostics in the last few decades is extraordinary. Laser therapy, 3D printing, and digital xrays are just a few examples of new tools which are available to us because of technology. Who knows what the future holds?
5. Hurting: Facebook arguments
Raise your hand if you've ever been pulled in to an "argument between commenters". The majority of people have been guilty of it. It's difficult to stay away from a conversation that involves often uneducated opinions regarding our profession. The truth is, as much as you try to explain and educate, some people will just never "get it". Instead of bashing your head against your keyboard, focus your energy on those who will listen and appreciate your viewpoint.
6. helping: telehealth
Medicine nowadays doesn't need to be done by the person standing in the same room as the patient. In fact, it can now be done by someone who is on another continent. Telehealth is continuously improving and increasing in popularity. Veterinarians all over the world can now share their expertise in different cases with colleagues across the globe. What an opportunity! Check out Dr. Mia Cary's NAVC blog on the subject.
7. Hurting: online pharmacies
In the good old pre-internet days, the only place clients could get veterinary meds was at the vet clinic. We knew the pet would be receiving quality, approved, and safe medication. Now, there are numerous websites offering prescription meds at a reduced cost. By undercutting the vet clinic, these sites are not only affecting the clinic's bottom line, but are also putting pets at risk of receiving medications of reduced quality, incorrect dose, or the wrong medication altogether. The AVMA has a great FAQ section regarding prescriptions and pharmacies if you need a resource for your clients on the subject.
8. helping: Going paperless
Perhaps one of the biggest improvements technology has brought to the veterinary world is the ability for practices to completely lose their paper. Between the cost of paper and printers and the amount of time your staff spends scanning and filing, going digital is a real game changer.
While technology can be a little scary at times, it has brought us countless advancements and opportunities to educate ourselves and our clients. In the end, our patients are getting better care and isn't that all that matters?