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From today: cheaper vet consultations - on the internet

Small dog is tended to by the arms of a vet © Pixabay

A new tele-medicine service launched today (30/04/19) is set to revolutionise veterinary care in the UK.

By Nick Whittle, 1 May 2019

Swedish Internet-based e-Veterinary Service FirstVet begun life in 2016 and has since proved popular with the country’s 110,000 pet owners. Registered account holders arrange a healthcare video meeting with one of the site's qualified vets.

Now the service has hit the ground running in the UK with endorsements from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and pet insurers, and aims to provide the same level of expert service to the UK’s 25m pet owners.

FirstVet’s video consultations cost between £20 and £30 and referral to a local vet is free of charge, should the animal need to be referred; FirstVet estimates that around half of the cases its vets deal with can be adequately resolved within the video consult.

Comfort to owners of uninsured pets

In an interview with Forbes, David Prien, CEO, and co-founder of FirstVet said, ‘if the consultation ends with a recommendation for the owner to take their pet to a physical clinic, FirstVet will forward these notes to the clinic receiving the referral. The receiving clinic can either be the owner’s preferred clinic or one that the FirstVet veterinarian helps them to choose during the consultation’.

The arrival of the system will be comforting to some pet owners, especially those who have decided not to insure their pets. Vet’s fees for uninsured pets are nudging £1000 on average in Great Britain with some more advanced surgeries and procedures costing in excess of £10,000.

FirstVet isn’t the first company to offer video-based triage for animals.  Other companies such as PawSquad, PetCoach and Barkibu already boast extensive coverage in the UK.

Prien is however optimistic of his company’s chances of adding to the cohort. ‘We believe what works best in such a highly-skilled profession is a face to face interaction between a pet, owner, and experienced vet,’ he said. ‘We see video calls as a low cost and immediate version of this. '

We have developed a good relationship with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons who are very supportive of our work and want to encourage the responsible use of telemedicine’.