Real‐time telehealth using ultrasonography is feasible in equine practice
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© 2019 EVJ Ltd Telehealth allows health care professionals to evaluate patients in remote locations using telecommunications technology. This manuscript presents a pilot experience with the goal of testing the feasibility and exploring the benefits for patients and veterinarians, technological challenges and perceived value of telehealth in ultrasound. In phase 1, experienced equine private practitioners and a sonographer performed diagnostic ultrasound examinations in collaboration using telecommunications technology. In phase 2, horses underwent two consecutive ultrasound examinations. One examination was performed by an inexperienced sonographer assisted by a remote expert, and all horses were then scanned by an expert sonographer on-site. Information about each interaction was collected, and a questionnaire was used at the end of the project to summarise practitioners’ and trainees’ experiences and perceptions. Thirty-six cases were evaluated using telecommunications technology. There were technological problems that were minor in 11 occasions, and in one case, the remote assistance had to be cancelled. Sonograms were longer when performed by an inexperienced sonographer aided remotely (40 ± 19, [9–73] min) than when performed by a sonographer (24 ± 12, [4–43 min], P = 0.02). Telehealth for ultrasound was feasible, and technological challenges could be solved. Telehealth for ultrasound was well received by private practitioners, house officers and sonography experts. The perceived benefits were the addition of clinically useful information, reassurance to practitioners and horse owners and education for practitioners. The results of this study support generating the hypothesis that telehealth could in the future increase the quality of equine medicine, and prospective studies are needed to confirm this. Rigorous care will be needed to ensure that implementation of telehealth technology prioritises equine health and the veterinary profession.
author list (cited authors)
de Solis, C. N., Bevevino, K., Doering, A., O'Gan, D., Teller, L., & Underwood, C.