fur-tual care

This Austin startup is helping pets get virtual care during COVID-19

This Austin startup is helping pets get virtual care during COVID-19

Dog with laptop dog looking at laptop computer
This Austin company connects vets to pets.  Photo courtesy of Pixlr

An Austin-based, digitally optimized company focused on veterinary care is helping pet owners connect with medical professionals from the comfort of their homes, offsetting the impact of the social distancing measures associated with COVID-19.

TeleVet Inc. recently announced that it will be offering its animal telemedicine platform free for one month to provide essential animal healthcare, connecting animal patients to veterinarians all over the country. TeleVet is used across 1,000 clinics and is accessible on phone, tablet, or computer.

The free month will be provided to cities that have been hard-hit by the virus, such as New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Las Vegas, and Chicago.

"In some cases, clinics in impacted cities are having to suddenly shut down or doing drop-off visits," Steven Carter, co-founder, and CEO of TeleVet, says. "We see that telemedicine is a huge component to keeping their staff and their client base during a time when social distancing is critical to flattening the curve of coronavirus cases."

Since its founding in 2015, the company has become a U.S. market leader in animal telemedicine. Over the last few years, telemedicine has been quickly expanding, and during the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a greater rush to move towards providing telemedicine for humans, as well as pets.

Houston-area vet Amy Garrou and the other vets in her practice had been using TeleVet for several months before the outbreak of the virus. Before the platform, animal patients and their owners had to come into the office for post-surgery checkups or other outpatient procedures. Garrou says her practice has been increasing the number of patients who use the platform since before the social distancing measures, making it a part of their daily workflow.

"We can check for infections such as ear infections or drainage from either a still picture or a video, or even a live video conference with the owner," says Garrou. "The platform has been useful because we can do any of those consultations and get the information we need to manage the case without the pet owner having to come into the clinic."

In January, TeleVet closed a $2 million seed round with investments from Houston-based Mercury Fund and Nebraska-based Dundee Venture Capital. (Garrou is married to Mercury Fund managing director Blair Garrou.) 

"We realized that a lot of stuff can be solved remotely, keeping the client and the pet at home so that the staff does not have to physically interact with the client which offers convenience to both the client and the vet," says Carter.

Vets say TeleVet helps them streamline the process by syncing with their medical records software seamlessly. This cuts costs and saves time from administrative duties. It also allows owners to have access to medical notes regarding the health of their pet.

As reliance on telemedicine increases due to the crisis, Garrou says it will eventually become part of the options available for pet owners, and especially vets who work long hours and tend to suffer from high levels of stress and burnout.

"We're really focused on helping, not only just to keep vets' businesses afloat right now," says Carter. "We can't stress enough that we care about the individuals in those practices. We want to help vets with work-life balance and reduce the burnout rate."

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A version of this story originally appeared on our sister site, InnovationMap