Dr. Sofia Gaviria
In this day in age, it’s inevitable; we are all glued to our smartphones, for better or for worse. They are intended to make our lives easier, so let’s put ‘em to use! Listed below are three ways that smartphones can help in the veterinary setting:
Assist in the Initial Diagnosis
As veterinarians, when we can’t hear directly from our patients about their issues, we rely heavily on history and our physical exam findings. Smartphones can help immensely, particularly when your pet is exhibiting clinical signs at home that may be difficult to describe once in our office. On countless occasions, I have had clients come in and tell me about how their pet is coughing or limping or having seizure-like activity, but the pet does not show any of these clinical signs during my physical exam. This can lead to frustration for you, the owner and for the veterinarian that wants to make a correct diagnosis. We need to know what’s going on so we can address it properly. This is where smartphones come in handy. Given how hard it is to describe many of these events the value of a video can’t be overstated. A video is worth more than a thousand words.
Another veterinarian once told me a story that beautifully exemplifies this point. A dog presented to her for evaluation of suspected seizures. Based off the owner’s description, it sounded like seizure activity: generalized shaking and odd behavior surrounding the event. The pet was started on anti-seizure medication, but the original events continued, so more medications were added. Again, the pet still had the episodes! When the doctor finally received a video of the episodes, it was discovered that the pet wasn’t having seizures at all, but was just desperately trying to scratch itself, shaking its whole body, rolling around on the bed, acting very oddly in an attempt to relieve the itch! The pet didn’t need any seizure medication, it needed anti-itch medication! The pet could have been treated more effectively and could have avoided unnecessary anti-seizure medication, if the doctor had a video to watch from the get go!
Assist in Tracking Progression
In addition to helping us form our initial diagnoses, they can also help us track progress during treatment. I love using smartphones for this as well. I do this a lot for my patients with skin disease or to track the healing of wounds, but there are many other uses.
Smartphones can also help us organize our lives- including pet medical records. you always have access on the go. I love an app called Evernote; it’s free and easy. Just take a picture of your pet’s records and put them into a separate folder that you have made on Evernote for your pet. That way if you ever find yourself in a situation in which you need access, you have everything handy and don’t have to recall when things were done. It might save your pet from unnecessary tests or vaccines!