Designed for veterinarians and pet owners alike, the new web-based telehealth application is expanding access to science-based insights from certified behavior experts.
With less than 100 veterinary behavior experts practicing in the United States, having direct access to reliable, scientifically-sound advice on managing unsavory pet behavior can prove challenging. But thanks to a newly launched, web-based application from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet), Intellivets, and Connect for Education (C4E), pet owners and primary care veterinarians alike can now enjoy expert insight from the comfort of their home or clinic.
The digital platform, created by Intellivets, connects users directly with Penn Vet’s behavior clinical team led by Dr. Carlo Siracusa, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, enabling them to collaborate on a variety of behavior issues ranging from aggression to destructive or self-injurious activity.
While not intended to replace full, in-person behavior consultations, the application provides an accessible, affordable solution for pets with immediate concerns.
Delivering high-tech features through a user-friendly interface, the application provides custom portals designed specifically to meet the unique needs of animal owners and general practice veterinarians.
Pet owners can initiate consultations with Penn Vet’s behavior experts through their primary veterinarian. Once the owner’s veterinarian has requested a consult through the app and uploaded important medical records, owners are given access to the application’s portal where they can upload additional information and videos of their animals’ behavior for the specialty consultation. From there, the Penn Vet experts can view and assess the behavior using the same rigorous scientific approach that they would apply in an in-person appointment. The app’s unique, real-time video commentary feature allows Penn Vet’s experts to provide specific, time-stamped feedback to help owners understand and correct troublesome behavior.
“The ability to leave frame-by-frame feedback on client videos is one of the most compelling stand-out features of this platform,” said Siracusa, assistant professor of clinical animal behavior who directs the behavior service at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital.
“The beauty of this is two-fold. First, these videos are capturing actions presented in settings that are comfortable and natural to the animal, so we’re able to get an insightful ‘picture’ of what could be contributing to the unwanted behavior. Beyond that, the ability to pause, rewind, and review the video allows us to effectively dial into specific environmental factors or body language cues that can be used to correct the issue,” he added.
For veterinary general practitioners, the application offers the opportunity to seamlessly integrate a specialized level of care into their individual practices. Upon logging into the app’s veterinarian portal, users see an at-a-glance dashboard capturing important patient information. From this dashboard, veterinarians have the ability to chat directly with owners, file medical records, and upload evaluation reports – doubling as a handy management tool to streamline patient needs.
Veterinarians can invite their patients’ owners to upload videos and other helpful information directly to the portal for their own assessment. If further support is necessary, Penn Vet’s behavior experts are just one message away through the portal’s custom chat function.
“We really want this platform to empower the broader veterinary community and enhance the level of care that they can provide to their own patients,” said Dr. KimMi Whitehead, CEO of Intellivets and Penn Vet alumna. “The veterinarian portion of the portal was specifically designed with our general practitioners in mind, and we pushed ourselves to create a thoughtful tool that would be practical and useful in a variety of ways.”
The application also houses a library of relevant resources designed for both owners and veterinarians, curated by Penn Vet. This collection of articles and videos is accessible to all veterinarians and their clients, regardless of whether or not they’re utilizing the consultation function of the app.
“This platform was developed for and designed by veterinarians,” added Dr. James Serpell, the Marie A. Moore Professor of Ethics and Animal Welfare at Penn Vet and creator of the Canine Behavior and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ), which the app uses to assess patient behavior. “At the end of the day, our primary focus is connecting other practitioners in the field with credible, efficacious resources that target the emergent needs of their patients.”
For more information about the application service, please visit www.vet.upenn.edu/behavior-app.
Intellivets was founded in 2018 by KimMi Whitehead, VMD, DACVECC, a veterinary criticalist. Intellivets is passionate about empowering veterinarians and pet owners by transforming how they access specialized pet care through telehealth technologies. Intellivets builds custom telehealth platform solutions for hospitals and specialists, allowing them to offer virtual veterinary services.