Historically, the creation of new technologies ushers in the development of new products and services. From the first cell phone call made in 1973 to asking Alexa to play a song, technology changes the products and services used in everyday life.
Tech advancements also impact in healthcare. In the late 1940s, technology made it possible for radiology images to be sent 24 miles between two townships via telephone in Pennsylvania, making it the first instance of an electronic medical record transfer. By the late 1960s, entire urban centers were utilizing the technology to fit their specific needs. Since then, the technology for telehealth services, and the demand for it, has increased exponentially.
While telehealth services may be more widely known in human healthcare, it isn’t exactly a new idea for veterinarians, either. Veterinary teams have been providing advice, triage services, and consultations via phone, email, and fax for years. But with the advancements in technology, telehealth services, including telemedicine and teleconsulting, have begun to take on a different look and feel.
Millennials (ages 18-34) have surpassed baby boomers (ages 51-69) as the largest pet owning demographic, according to the American Pet Products Association. Millennials also are the largest consumers of technology. More than 85 percent of millennials own smartphones (Nielsen) and 87 percent use two to three tech devices at least once a day (Forbes). Additionally, 65 percent of millennials start interactions with a brand or organization online (Microsoft), and 41 percent of millennials have already made purchases online (Edielman Digital).
These statistics indicate a growing trend of pet owners who can be reached online, purchase online, and may potentially prefer using telemedicine services for their pets for minor and nonlife-threatening medical questions over visiting a veterinary clinic.
According to Matthew Rumbaugh, executive director of TeleHealth Suites and co-founder of VetNOW, it isn’t just a matter of preference.