etSure and Woolworths will provide free remote Vet consultations in April
Trailblazers unite to make sure pet owners can still get advice in isolation via televet startup Vetchat.
Policyholders across all of PetSure’s 30+ brands will have access to free tele-medicine consultations with a qualified Vet during April, thanks to a new joint initiative between PetSure and Woolworths.
As many Australians self-isolate and states go into various stages of shutdown, the country is working fast to continue providing essential services under difficult circumstances. Amongst various pressing concerns, many still need to ensure their pets receive necessary medical attention.
PetSure last week announced investment into televet startup Vetchat which gives pet owners immediate access to a consult with a nationally-registered Vet via chat or video.
In order to relieve financial stress for pet owners and ensure Australia’s pets are continuing to get the care they need in the current situation, PetSure and Woolworths have joined forces to fund two free Vet consultations during April for all pet owners insured with PetSure brands. Starting on April 1, the initiative means that any customer of a PetSure brand can contact Vetchat anytime between 6am and midnight (Eastern Standard Time) to speak with an experienced Australian Vet in a real-time consultation using chat or video call.
PetSure CEO Alexandra Thomas said: “We hope these free professional consultations will make a big difference, especially when people are already stressed about money and well-being. At any time, they are a crucial service made more accessible – whether they give a pet parent peace of mind on an everyday pet health concern or guidance on next steps in an urgent or emergency situation. Better access to Veterinary advice means calmer, better informed pet parents and better pet health outcomes. Vetchat also benefits Vets, allowing them to work from home and with flexible hours, an option that may be a lifeline in coming months.
“With an increasing number of Australians in isolation or work from home situations it could be challenging for many of us to have a face-to-face interaction with a Veterinarian at a Vet surgery, even in a situation where the pet owner is concerned about something they are observing with their pet.
Vets may also be finding it challenging to work from their usual premises and consult through traditional face-to-face approaches and it’s in both of these scenarios that Vetchat can make a significant contribution – connecting Australian pet parents with Vets who can do their best work by providing optimal animal welfare outcomes remotely for Australian pets, and connecting Vets with a way to continue to practice.”
The PetSure/ Woolworths joint initiative is focussed on pet welfare and supporting pet owners, but also Vets – who are likely to be significantly affected from emerging developments. Vetchat gives vets the opportunity to continue to practice remotely and from their own home, with greater flexibility around their hours and location so they can apply their specialised skill set where it’s needed, at times that suit them.
Existing expertise delivered in new ways
Vetchat CEO Dr. Claire Jenkins commented: “Vetchat is delighted to be able to reach more Australians and support them in their pet care with the investment from PetSure and the free consults initiative from PetSure and Woolworths. We look forward to speaking to lots of pet carers about their animals and helping them keep their furry family members happy and healthy in the months and years to come. We want to build a world where pets and carers can access Vets anywhere, anytime and this is a huge step towards that.”
Woolworths General Manager Financial Services and Payments, Paul Monnington, said: “We’re very happy to be able to offer Australians some support in this way, and we hope it will provide some relief to pet owners. Woolworths has been in partnership with Vetchat since January last year through our VetAssist service. We believe this is a much needed service to help make Veterinary care easier for Australians to reach a Vet when they are concerned for their pets. We have consistently seen a 92% satisfaction rating across the consultations from VetAssist.”
Ms Thomas said telemedicine is fast becoming an integral part of human healthcare, especially since the acknowledgement of its importance by the federal government, most recently in the announcement last week that Medicare will now cover all telemedicine calls. In parallel to human healthcare, Veterinary care also needs to be affordable, convenient and – above all – accessible for pet owners – especially in the case of a lockdown.
Ms Thomas went on to say: “People are turning to telehealth services for their own medical needs at this time – now they can do the same for their pets without leaving their house.
Vetchat is another channel for Vets to provide advice to pet owners. The opportunity to give personalised advice to concerned pet parents allows Vets to reach more animals that need it, faster – not just in the current environment, but under usual circumstances where some people may struggle to get to a clinic and in good time.”
Demand for Veterinary telemedicine is growing fast around the world, especially in mature pet ownership markets such as UK, US, Sweden. Partnerships with pet insurers and other players in the pet health care sector have proved vital to growing televet businesses and getting them into the hands of pet parents.
How to access free Vet care
Customers of PetSure brands can access two free Vetchat consultations in April by going to petsure.vetchat.com.au and entering their pet insurance policy number. They will then get to choose whether they would like a text or video consultation, and will be joined by an experienced Australian Veterinarian within minutes.