May
2
2016

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One of the difficulties veterinary healthcare teams face is knowing how their painful canine patients do once they leave the veterinary practice. That landscape is changing with the advent of remote monitoring of activity and physiologic parameters.

There are three scenarios in which remote monitoring of canine patients is incredibly useful and can make a difference in treatment choices: post-operative recovery, chronic pain management, and physiotherapy.

For each group of canine patients, monitoring physiologic parameters remotely provides data-driven insights never before available.

Post-operative recovery parameters such as amount of activity and quality of rest can be monitored quite easily when the patient is in the hospital. Even so, it remains challenging for veterinary healthcare team members to assess canine patients for pain and discomfort following surgery.

This challenge becomes exponentially more difficult once the patient goes home. For dog owners, pain assessments can be truly impossible.

Human family members certainly have a subjective “sense” about how their dogs are doing, but these impressions are just that—subjective. Add the complications of time away from home during work hours and time sleeping, and now the post-operative patient is neither supervised nor observed.

New remote monitoring capabilities can provide many important insights for the veterinary healthcare teams during the post-surgical period at home, including compliance with activity restriction, understanding length of uninterrupted rest, and vital sign monitoring, all indicators of level of comfort.

In the case of chronically painful dogs suffering from osteoarthritis or other degenerative conditions, the treatment plan typically incorporates several components including nutrition (+/- weight normalization), medication to break the maladaptive pain cycle, and either a restriction of or prescription for activity.

The success or failure of such a treatment plan depends upon delivery of its various components by the dog owner, and upon the dog’s response to therapy. Measuring therapy effectiveness objectively and frequently has been a very daunting challenge, until now.

Remote monitoring of physiologic parameters and activity provides an unmatched opportunity to monitor compliance to the pain management plan and the ability to fine-tune it.

Trends in uninterrupted sleep, duration of activity, heart rate, respiratory rate, time in the outdoors, and distances travelled all help measure the success of the treatment plan by illuminating the responses to therapy. Details of the treatment plan can be “tweaked” in a true dialogue with the dog owner.

Finally, for physiotherapy patients, remote monitoring of physiologic and activity parameters provides important insights into the patient’s progress through a therapeutic plan.

Monitoring also provides accountability that the therapeutic plan is actually happening at home in between formal physiotherapy sessions at the practice.

It is easier for the veterinarian, healthcare team, and the pet owner to measure the success of treatments if follow-up data are available to them via remote monitoring.

Remote monitoring of a dog’s activities and physiologic parameters is the wave of the future, allowing veterinarians to understand their patients like never before. It also provides dog owners with a unique opportunity to interface both with their dog’s healing and responses to therapy and with the veterinary practice.

Objective data trumps subjective impressions every time!  Better data means better medicine, and better medicine is better business.

For more information on the topic of new advancements improving pain identification and ongoing management, please review this Remote Monitoring and Pain Management Use Case.

Additionally, please join me for the AAHA Vetfolio Webinar for CE credits, sponsored by Voyce Pro™, which will run May 30-June 12.

About the Author:

Robin Downing, DVM, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CCRP, is the Director of The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management. She is also a founder of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.

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