In 1890, John Froelich and the local blacksmith invented the first gas-powered tractor in the United States. Granted, it could catch the field on fire, had a top speed of 3 miles per hour, and had a threshold of 1000 bushels of grain, but it streamlined a tedious process1. The point is, John Froelich saw a way that farming could be improved, acted on an idea, and it laid a foundation for others to build and enhance the technology. During this time of uncertainty, telemedicine may be the tractor for swine veterinary medicine. It had a bumpy start but could be the up and coming way of doing swine medicine.
The most significant impact telemedicine has had on the swine industry is encouraging good biosecurity. When problems arise on the farm, the barn crew can call the veterinarian, tell them about the trouble and try to troubleshoot the problem that way. If the system has EveryPig, then the veterinarian can log on and have pictures or videos to aid in explaining the situation as well. By using telemedicine, veterinarians can try to solve problems without having to drive out to the farm. If the veterinarian isn’t driving out to issues that aren’t emergencies, the veterinarian doesn’t have to worry about downtime. The less veterinarians have to be at barns, the less they worry about breaks in biosecurity.
Another way that telemedicine has helped the swine industry is the ability to see more cases throughout the day. A veterinarian could have a pre-scheduled day of farm visits and consult with additional barns on the phone. If EveryPig is available within the production system, the veterinarian could utilize this application to check on all of its farms and still maintain a regular schedule day.
The last way telemedicine has significantly improved the swine industry is by encouraging faster response and getting treatment faster to pigs that need it. With programs like EveryPig, a veterinarian can scroll through their news feed and see what’s going on. Then if anything is out of the ordinary, the veterinarian can call the barn to check-in. EveryPig allows for early intervene so that treatment plans can be more successful. The more successful the treatment plan, the better herd health.
Telemedicine was a solution for veterinarians during COVID-19 because they couldn’t get to all the barns they wanted to see in a day and maintain social distancing. It was a different approach to veterinarian medicine because veterinarians had to adapt to the change in the environment. By changing the way businesses operated day-to-day, veterinarians found that they could practice better biosecurity with telemedicine. They were also able to handle many more cases every day and also contribute to faster treatment. There was a way to streamline the veterinary process during COVID-19, and telemedicine is here to stay.
Dr. C. Grace Elijah