IDEXX Global Medical Consulting Services brings expert support into practice when you need it most
Dr Myer hasn’t been able to get Lizzie, a three-year-old Airedale, out of her mind since she left the exam room without clear answers a few hours ago. This is the fourth time Lizzie’s family has brought her in for an unexpected visit in the past year, each time with difficult-to-pinpoint symptoms: intermittent diarrhoea and decreased energy. Recently, she hasn’t been finishing all of her food, and her family has noticed that sometimes she paces at night. This time, Lizzie’s family brought her in because she’d thrown up while she was up pacing and panting. Dr Myer completed a thorough physical exam, but everything with Lizzie was normal, just like in previous visits. Dr Myer had performed lab work on the last two visits, looking for abnormalities and trends that could provide clues. She looked again, comparing the two CBCs and chemistry panels with electrolytes and urinalyses. A few things look a little off, but nothing that points to a conclusive answer. Sodium is normal, potassium is a bit high but still within the normal reference range. Lizzie’s renal values are trending a little higher on the more recent results, but they are still normal. Monocytes were low on the first round of blood work but normal on the second, along with everything else on her CBCs. Her urinalyses are also unremarkable. What could be causing Lizzie’s vague and intermittent clinical signs and symptoms? Could Lizzie have Addison’s disease? What about pancreatitis? Renal disease? Leptospirosis? Something else? What is the best next step?
Dr Myer finds a quiet moment between appointments, pulls out her phone and finds the number for IDEXX Global Medical Consulting Services in her saved contacts. In minutes, she’s connected with an expert small animal internal medicine specialist, and once she’s confirmed her IDEXX account and Lizzie’s name, the consulting specialist can view Lizzie’s IDEXX test results for both in-clinic analysers and Reference Laboratory testing while listening to Dr Myer’s description of Lizzie’s presentation. In just minutes, Dr Myer found someone she can talk through this puzzling case with to make sure she’s considered all the options and will be equipped to recommend the best next steps to the pet owner. The consulting specialist agrees with Dr Myer’s concerns and list of possible causes. Together, Dr Myer and her IDEXX Global Medical Consulting Services colleague discuss the options for additional diagnostics and clarify next steps that make the most sense. Yes, Lizzie could very well have Addison’s disease, but there are a few other compelling possibilities. The anxiety leaves Dr Myer’s voice as she ends the call, confident in the next steps she’ll take to obtain a diagnosis to focus treatment recommendations.
That’s what veterinary surgeons placing more than 600,000 calls each year find when they contact IDEXX Global Medical Consulting Services for help and guidance specific to IDEXX products and services. Expert support. A judgement-free zone. And the added experience and perspective that a fellow vet or technician member of the IDEXX Global Medical Consulting Services team can add to help make the day go a bit more smoothly. All at no additional cost.
“Years ago, when practising vets faced a challenging or puzzling case, we didn’t have the internet or easy access to all of the information and support options we have today. We read and kept our paper journals, and we consulted our veterinary textbooks every day,” says Shannon Bray, DVM, DACVIM (small animal internal medicine), and senior manager on the Global Medical Consulting Services team at IDEXX. “And when we really needed help beyond those resources, we literally ‘phoned a friend,’ usually a friend or mentor from veterinary school, an internship or residency, and hoped they had time to connect and talk through a case amid everyone’s busy days. But that wasn’t always easy. Now, veterinary practitioners can ‘phone a friend’ at IDEXX and get connected with the expert consultation they need. We are an added resource for our veterinary colleagues in practice.”
Today, IDEXX’s Global Medical Consulting Services team is more than 150 strong, serving customers in 25 countries and discussing cases in 14 languages. The group is part of the approximately 600 specialists and medical consultants at IDEXX across teams including pathology, radiology and cardiology. Consultants have an average of 14 years of veterinary clinical experience and 20 percent of the team has more than 10 years of experience at IDEXX. About half of the team members still work in practice part-time or covering relief shifts. Forty-six percent of the team is composed of board-certified veterinary specialists with expertise in disciplines that include oncology, dermatology, small animal internal medicine, large animal internal medicine and zoological medicine. Callers can also reach general practitioners, known as diagnostic support vets, who receive additional training related to diagnostic medicine, and diagnostic support technicians with expertise in IDEXX test selection, common discrepant results and test protocols.
“I’ve always been an educator at heart,” says Andrea Munk, DVM, DACVIM (small animal internal medicine), veterinary specialist medical consultant based in the US. “I love the role of teacher and guide. It’s been really easy to incorporate that into my consultant role at IDEXX for the past seven years, and I think that’s true for many of us. It’s our calling. I like discussing the possible options. In the end, the customer makes the decision, but I appreciate playing a role in helping them feel confident they’re making the most informed decision they can.”
In the end, the customer makes the decision, but I appreciate playing a role in helping them feel confident they’re making the most informed decision they can.
Paige Brock, DVM, DACZM, cVMA (zoological medicine), veterinary specialist medical consultant, echoes that idea. “I think the thing that I love the most is when I get to talk to those practitioners who are feeling a little bit of imposter syndrome, who are feeling that they don’t have the tools or the knowledge to help their patient,” says Brock. “And I get to be that positive voice in the room that says, ‘You’re doing great and we can come up with a plan and a solution together.’ I really love that opportunity.”
Veterinary practitioners across the globe can access IDEXX Global Medical Consulting Services and, increasingly, team members are sharing knowledge with each other to ensure continuous learning and shared expertise. “It’s a really great team made up of a lot of people with very different backgrounds who are having exchanges with each other day by day,” says Stephanie Nather, DVM and small animal veterinary specialist medical consultant based in Germany. “We’re connected, we’re talking about cases. And I love that if I can’t give the perfect answer right away, I can think out loud and confer with colleagues and call a customer back with a better answer.” Team members have been surprised to find that while there are certainly regional distinctions – in diseases of concern or in approach to medicine – there are more commonalities than there are differences from region to region.
IDEXX Global Medical Consultants often think of themselves as a virtual extension of each practice they encounter over the phone. “Sometimes you can hear that the caller is very stressed – maybe the pet owner is in front of them, or I’ve even taken urgent calls from vets seeking advice about patients who are under sedation or general anaesthesia,” Juliette Trempé, DVM and medical consulting manager, France, shared. “During COVID lockdowns, vets were absolutely alone in the practice with no nurses. They had no one to talk to about clinical cases to get perspective or advice. Our role as a colleague and guide felt even more essential at that time. And I love knowing that I’ve helped not only the vet but also the pet.”
Callers to the IDEXX Global Medical Consulting Services team may be surprised to find that the veterinary specialists, veterinary general practitioners and diagnostic support technicians they reach are not coached to push or promote further IDEXX diagnostics. “From the beginning, the direction from my leaders at IDEXX has always been that my job is to provide the best guidance for that client and that patient,” says Dr Brock. “It’s my job to support and give the best recommendation for the patient and I think that builds so much credibility.”
IDEXX Global Medical Consulting Services are available to all IDEXX customers in North America and Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand at no additional cost. To take advantage of this rich IDEXX resource, contact your local IDEXX customer support centre for more information.