Iowa State University launches swine telehealth technology

Faculty at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine are working on a way to teach students swine-medicine skills through the use of virtual telehealth technology.


The university said the method could reinforce biosecurity while allowing students to see more cases than they would using traditional approaches to teaching veterinary skills.

A USDA grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture has allowed veterinarians at Iowa State’s Swine Medicine Education Center (SMEC) to partner with livestock precision farming company Distynct and the VetNOW veterinary telehealth platform to test the learning platform. In October, the partnership successfully proved that the concept works, as students learned how to draw blood from a pig while receiving instruction from a remote veterinarian via telehealth technology.

“Telehealth is the direction we’re headed. It’s the future,” said Kristin Skoland, program specialist at SMEC. “Especially with the pandemic, people are used to being at home and using conferencing technology to be able to gain access to resources.”

Telehealth technology offers additional benefits. For instance, students will now be able to tour facilities that were previously off limits due to strict biosecurity measures.

One downside of telehealth technology is that it relies on high-speed internet in order to properly function. This can be a challenge, especially for those studying from rural communities.

However, the university believes the technology will have an important role to play, especially during a foreign animal disease outbreak. Having access to this type pf technology will improve diagnostic capabilities.