Veterinarians play an essential role in providing services to ensure the health and welfare of cows. But during COVID-19, visits from your veterinarian and consultant is not a matter of course. Telemedicine might be used more. Ida is here to keep the conversation going.
While everyone is in lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, advisors, consultants and veterinarians reduce the number of visits to your farm and you are less likely to meet in person. Despite unprecedented circumstances and protective measures, some things can simply cannot be postponed. One of these is the health and care of (livestock) animals. Technology plays an important role in keeping animal health at a high level. The data generated from technology used on farms is now, more than ever, excellent information to share with the veterinarian to be able to solve some of the health issues digitally.
Use of telemedicine is growing
Since a couple of weeks, we hear a lot more about the terms ‘telehealth’ and ‘telemedicine’. When COVID-19 hinders travelling to farms or to be close to other people (farmers), veterinarians can use other ways to still provide service to farmers. Think of using videos, video calls and the exchange of medical information electronically, to allow for treatment when they cannot visit the farm.
As some individual states in the United States have amended their veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR) guidelines to allow more distance between farms and veterinarians in order to slow the spread, the FDA followed suit. The FDA has now temporarily suspended enforcement of part of the federal VCPR that requires animal examination for certain treatments.
Prescribing from a distance
“This pandemic has had impacts on many of our everyday lives and professions, and during this time, we need to provide veterinarians with the latitude to expand the use of telemedicine in the care of animals, not only pets, but also the animals that produce our food,” said Stephen M. Hahn, FDA commissioner, in a prepared statement, and published by Dairyherd.com. ”Based on a video, photographs and description of the health problem, the veterinarian will be able to prescribe extra-label drugs or write a veterinary feed directive say for a group of cows suffering from respiratory disease to get them treated,” Howe said to Dairyherd.com.
Also in the United Kingdom, the rules have been amendment to be able to give veterinarians more flexibility. Under normal circumstances the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons does not allow veterinary surgeons in the UK to prescribe veterinary medicines without a physical examination of the animal(s) having first taken place. However, RCVS Council has decided that there should be a temporary departure from this position under the current exceptional circumstances. This position will continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis and, in any event, no later than 30 June 2020.
Guidance documents for veterinarians
Many organisations have also made guidelines on how to handle when vets still have to access farms in case of emergencies for example. The American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) made a document that contains recommendations for cattle veterinarians and their clients. Also the British Veterinary Association (BVA) made a document to provide guidance for veterinary practices in providing essential veterinary care during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, veterinary professionals can continue to work, in line with the UK government’s advice to business. They must, however, only provide in-person services that are needed to maintain the food supply chain, or which are essential for animal health and welfare or public health, including to relieve pain and suffering.
Use of animal health data
When using telemedicine it is essential to provide the veterinarian with accurate information on the cow’s health status or anomalies in her behavior. Ida, the intelligent dairy assistant can be a great tool to help farmers and veterinarians to get to a diagnose of the sick cow quickly. With Ida, the veterinarian (and e.g. the feed advisor) can continue to consult, troubleshoot and advise farmers. Already, many Ida users send screenshots of insights to their external advisors and the veterinarian. And this will become more important now that these people cannot always see the cows in real life.
“Not only me and my herd manager look at the Ida insights. The insights are also used for conversations with the feed advisor. I make a summary each month for the feed advisor with the rumination times and other relevant data”.
Step 1: Select the insight you want to discuss. This can be an individual cow or a farm level insight. This can for example be a graph on rumination or eating beahvior. A sudden drop in rumination can mean the cow is getting sick.
Step 2: Simply send the veterinarian a screen shot of the insight or graph. Or share your Ida desktop dashboard during a video call or share the graph via Whatsapp.
Step 3: Share other relevant information during the call and discuss a treatment plan or other tasks that can be done to tackle the problem. This way, you can together solve the issue quickly!
Ida is the first digital assistant for the dairy farmer, based on sensor technology, cloud computing and machine learning. Ida translates unique data on cow behavior into accurate and actionable insights. This makes farming more efficient improves animal health. The technology has been developed by Connecterra and is available in 16 countries, including the US and Canada. Ask for a free demo here.
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Global Market Communications Manager at Connecterra