A SMARTPHONE app developed last year has grown in popularity following the outbreak of coronavirus.
Bendigo Sheep Vets owner Tristan Jubb and IT worker Githal Pathirana developed the Phone A Vet app to better connect with remote farmers.
"I give lots of phone advice and was spending hours on the phone each week (with) no real way of billing," Dr Jubb said. "It started as a way for sheep producers to get convenient and affordable advice from a sheep vet and the vets didn't mind for the few shekels we get.
"We deal with farmers getting bad advice, so to be able to talk to an independent vet for objective advice (is good)."
Dr Jubb launched the app at the start of the year before the COVID-19 pandemic began. But since then, isolated pet owners have taken to the app for animal advice without having to travel to the vet.
"There was initially interest from other vets and animal owners and we built modest group vets supporting companion animals and farm animals," he said. "It was a good customer base with people prepared to pay $25 for an advice session.
"Then along comes coronavirus and it's gone gangbusters. People need way to get remote advice and Phone A Vet is being used as a triage tool.
"There are lots of animal owners at home looking after animals and they have questions. The challenge is getting to vet when vets want to minimise face-to-face. The app has come into its own."
Pet owners are able to select vets that specialise in certain animals. Following the non-urgent consultation pet owners will receive advice on whether they need to bring their animals in.
"It's primarily about vet advice and preventing small problems becoming big ones," Dr Jubb said. "You can search for a vet based on their vet bios, business name, location and the species supported.
"Then you request a session and the animal owner uploads photos and video if need be for a 15 minute call. Medical notes are sent at the end of call and the invoice is automatically emailed (similar to Uber).
"The number of vets signed up has climbed to a couple of hundred and there is something like 40 vets online at any one time. It's hugely convenient for vets who are working from home, can be done on the road."
Phone A Vet is free to download from Google Play or the App Store. For more information visit www.phoneavet.com.au
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