Saturday, March 12, 2011

Emailing With Your Vet And The Miracle Of Web-based Medical Records

As a part of her Reasonable Expectations series Dr. Kay wrote a great post on using email to communicate with your vet. Do check out her article.

By the way, did you get Speaking for Spot yet? I am going to keep bugging you until you do, so you might as well just go and do it. I KNOW you will be glad you did, trust me on that.

Now, back to email communication.

All our vets in the past would allow some degree of email communication. Interestingly, the degree and usefulness of that was a reflection of how well they were willing to communicate in general.

Now, a love-and-hate relationship with the keyboard does not a bad vet make. 

General distaste for communication all together, however, does.

If your vet doesn't listen to you when you're trying to explain your dog's symptoms, how is he going to get the right diagnosis?

And if your vet won't discuss the diagnosis and treatment options with you, would do you know that your dog is getting the treatment that is the best for him? In fact, how would you know what the treatment is in the first place? We had vets just do things without saying a word about what they were doing and why!

"Here, give this to your dog twice a day."

"Wait a minute! What is it? What does it do? Why is he taking it? Does it have side effects? What are other options?"

Ever had a vet like that?

I believe that good communication is just as important as a state of the art equipment and diagnostic tools.

Of course the vet isn't always to blame. Good communication takes two parties, keep that in mind!

Our vet and I use email to communicate all the time. I love it for a number of reasons:
  • we both can respond in our own time
  • we both can keep track of the conversations and refer to them later without having to remember everything
  • we both can do further research before answering
It is important to realize that email communication doesn't work in emergency situations and does not replace the vet physically examining your dog!

But it works great for us for everything else.
  • lab results came back? We can discuss what we're looking at and where to go from there.
  • started a new treatment? Our vet can be up to date on how well Jasmine is responding to it.
  • there is a medical decision to be made? We can discuss our options.
What we discuss? Everything from vaccinations, Jasmine's progress, to new treatment ideas.
    Our vet has taken this one step further. He is using web-based medical records system.

    I don't know about you, but getting to see lab results or medical records from any of our past vets was like pulling teeth! I never understood why keeping patient records from the client was a matter of national security!

    When we were changing vets, they charged us to forward the records to the new vet. That on its own would be reasonable.

    But what our new vet got from the previous places was three pages worth of useless scribble!

    Consider that in the light of the fact that Jasmine was at the vets with various issues at least once a month since she was a puppy!

    So how could this be? 

    Either their patient records were really that bad, or they didn't want anybody to see them. I'm not sure which I would consider worse.

    When we started seeing Jasmine's new vet, I thought I died and went to heaven!

    I can go online and access all her records any time I want. All of them! All her lab results, diagnoses, treatments, notes and email conversations we had from day one are right there at my fingertips.

    What if we went on a trip and there was an emergency?

    No problem, I can go into her records online and provide the emergency vet with any information they might need.

    How well do you remember everything that was discussed during your vet visit?

    We don't have to remember it! Jasmine's vet writes up a summary of each visit, which we can look up any time we need.

    The list could go on.

    For me, this web-based system became an indispensable tool in managing Jasmine's health care. It is yet another reason we are thankful for our new vet every day.

    It's your dog's health,

    Related articles:
    Veterinarians Are People First
    A Word On Second Opinions Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
    Making Tough Medical Decisions For Your Dog
    It's Your Dog's Health
    Does Your Vet Listen To You?
    Help! My Dog Is Purple!
    Veterinary Drive-Thru: Coming Soon To A Veterinary Hospital Near You!


    1. Web-based records seem like a great idea!

    2. Oh, you have no idea how awesome it is! And convenient for our vet too. Everybody wins.

    3. Great post! I have a wonderful relationship with my vet, and we even FaceBook! They are there anytime for my Sibes, which I greatly appreciate. I like the idea of web-based records...and Emailing. Great tips.

    4. So glad for you that you do have a wonderful vet, do cherish him.

      The web-based records are the awesomest thing! And since our vet files our email conversation in there also, there isn't anything you cannot find there and refer to later when you need.

    5. People not responding to emails is one of my biggest pet peeves. My vet doesn't even send a "got it!" when I sent in a change of address (I know they did update their records, though).

      I definitely got the "here give her this" and when I asked what it was they said "oh right, you're the one with the background" and I got a sense of internal eye rolling. We've only been in twice (only adopted her last May), so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt for now.

    6. Dear Ashley. Some vets like using email, some don't. "Internal eye rolling" when you want to know what medication you're giving to your dog, however, would be a red flag for me.

      Even owners "without background" have the right and responsibility to know what they're giving to their dog, why, what they should expect from the medication and what side effects they should be aware of.

    7. I have a great relationship with my specialist. We talk at least monthly by phone (if not more) regarding Kodee's care. But I would love web based records. Should I need to go to a vet quickly not familar with her - it would take so long to explain it all. Usually if your seeking another vet quickly, time is not there to begin with! But in the meantime, you have reminded me I need to request a written updated summary report to keep on hand here.

    8. That is the beauty of them - everything is always right there at one's fingertips. I got very spoiled with that, couldn't live without it.

      Having a summary write up helps too.

    9. Wonderful post, Jana. Although I am not a vet, I do communicate by email with so many of my "customers/pet owners" at all hours of the day, 7 days a week. Also send them copies of my reports to the vet by email attachment, etc. The more communication, the better I can problem- solve and offer quick suggestions to minimize new problems. Thanks for this post. Regards, Sue D, PT

    10. Hi Sue. Thumbs up to you! Our chiro/physical therapist is great, but getting her to send over a proper report is hard also, and usually ends up being just sketchy notes.

      Same with our TCVM.

      Communication and quality information are so important!