Communicating with Your Veterinarian: Emailing With Your Vet And The Miracle Of Web-based Medical Records

Except for emergencies, what is your preferred way of communicating with your veterinarian between appointments? What is theirs?

A phone call seems most convenient, and you can discuss things in greater detail. But your veterinarian has other things to do during their day than sit at the desk and wait for the phone to ring.

Sometimes you do need to talk or show up eventually. However, what if you just want to confirm something or ask a non-urgent question. Do you expect your vet to drop everything and take the call? Do you have the experience of not being able to get hold of them?

Veterinarians using email unanimously reported that it is great for simple, non-urgent communications (emphasis on non-urgent). Just imagine every veterinarian’s nightmare- you check your email in the evening and find a message that is eight hours old from a client describing their pet who is struggling to breathe and has blue gums! Vets using email enjoy the convenience- for many, not only is email less time consuming than telephoning (avoids phone tag), they can respond to emails at their convenience.

Dr. nancy Kay
Communicating with Your Veterinarian: Emailing With Your Vet And The Miracle Of Web-based Medical Records

Quality of communication

All our vets in the past allowed 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. A general distaste for communication altogether, however, does.

If your vet doesn’t listen to you when you’re trying to explain your dog’s symptoms, how are they 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?

Learn more about how to get the most out of your veterinary visits and download our FREE Veterinary Visit Checklists here.

The importance of communication

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!

Advantages of email communication

Our vet and I used email to communicate all the time. I love it for a number of reasons:

  • it allows both parties to respond in their own time
  • both parties can keep track of the conversations and refer to them later without having to remember everything
  • we both can do further research before answering
When is email communication most useful?

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 discussed? Everything from vaccinations, Jasmine’s progress, to new treatment ideas.

Veterinary online medical records

Our vet has taken this one step further. He is using a 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 vet’s 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.

Learn more about whether you’re entitled to a copy of your dog’s medical records and laboratory work results here.

The advantage of online veterinary medical records

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.

Related articles:
What Makes a Good Veterinarian: Veterinarians Are People First
Veterinary Medical Records: Access to Your Dog’s Medical Information–To Whom Do Your Dog’s Records Belong?
Do you know what questions to ask your veterinarian?

Further reading:
Reasonable Expectations: Communicating With Your Vet Via Email

Categories: Dog health advocacyWorking with Veterinarians

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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