The Rise of Telemedicine: Implications for Doctors in 2018
With seven million users projected by 2018, and with close to 90% of healthcare executives working on tele-delivery platforms, to say that “telemedicine is trending strong” feels like an understatement.
The idea of telemedicine isn’t a new one, in fact the first discussion of “tele”-medicine dates back to 1879 when the implications of using the telephone to reduce unnecessary office visits was first recorded. From there it wasn’t until 1948 when the first radiologic images were sent via telephone.
With the rise of the internet in the 1990s, the potential for telemedicine grew. Today, healthcare providers and administrative organizations alike are investing in the proliferation of telemedicine. In 2016, $16 million was awarded by the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) to help improve access to healthcare in rural areas - some of which was invested in telehealth.
Many hospitals see telehealth as a large benefit that helps increase patient satisfaction and stay competitive in a growingly digital industry. The number of specialties that use telehealth has spread greatly since the original use in radiology. Today, psychiatry makes up 21% of telemedicine use, followed by pediatrics (20%) and general practice (13%).
Telemedicine as a practice has changed greatly over time with the rise of new technologies making it easier for telemedicine to become a viable method of patient care. But what’s it like--and what does it take--to work in telemedicine today (or telehealth, as it’s sometimes known)?
This week, we caught up with Julianna Ward, Nomad Health’s VP of Operations and head of our stellar team of Nomad Navigators, to learn more.
Julianna Ward, VP of Operations at Nomad Health
What’s a typical telemedicine work schedule?
Compared to a standard permanent or locums job, there is no “typical” telemedicine work schedule.
The nice thing about these jobs is that they offer a lot of flexibility.
In some cases, some companies may want you to do a minimum number of consults or commit to a certain time span (like six months, a year, etc). But for the most part, you get to dictate your schedule. This means that you can just let the company know your availability and they’ll slot you in, which makes telemedicine perfect work for extra hours or a day that you’re off. There's also typically no exclusivity, so you can work for a number of telemedicine companies at the same time.
Can telemedicine become a full-time job?
Certainly, if it’s something you really enjoy. One thing to note though is that you may earn less than working full-time at an on-site practice because of the nature of how it’s setup and the convenience of being able to practice from your home.
Telemedicine compensation is usually measured by consult of hours worked. We find that most doctors use it as supplemental income to an existing job or as part-time work when you’re, say, retired or a stay-at-home parent.
What are some common reasons doctors pursue telemedicine?
There is really no one type of doctor who tends to be interested in telemedicine opportunities - we see all kinds of doctors applying.
Some common trends are physicians who've recently completed residency and are trying to get rid of student debt, those who’ve taken some time off to raise a family or pursue some other professional interest, or those who are nearing retirement but still want to practice some medicine.
Of course we also see plenty of mid-career doctors looking to pick up some extra work; many of these doctors express an interest in technology and a desire to stay on top of some of those trends. Plus, who wouldn’t want to work from their couch at home?
How easy are the platforms to use?
Ease-of-use is key to success on both the doctor and patient side of telemedicine, so the companies we work with not only have technology that’s very quick and simple to learn, but also provide great training and onboarding. We hear a lot of positive feedback about that from doctors hired for telehealth positions on Nomad.
What specialties do employers look for?
Family and internal medicine are definitely big ones. That said, there are opportunities across a variety of specialities, including dermatology and psychiatry.
As telemedicine becomes more popular, I think we’ll see both the number of specialized platforms and number of specialities represented grow.
All this being said, if you’re a specialist whose field isn’t represented, if you have solid general medicine training, you can still apply for the broader platforms.
What kinds of skills do employers look for?
Passion for the field and excitement for what it can bring are important. Also, intellectual curiosity, and a willingness to try new things. Telemedicine is fairly new and these companies love partnering with doctors who are excited about this new expansion to patient care.
On the more practical side, having a flexible schedule and proficiency with technology are common prerequisites, so that the platforms can be used to their full capability.
How do benefits and insurance work with telemedicine?
On most platforms, the work is freelance, so they typically do not offer benefits like health insurance. However, most do provide malpractice insurance.
As the first clinical employment site in the United States to offer telemedicine opportunities directly to clinicians, we’re really excited to be an active part of the digital future of healthcare and the growth of telemedicine. With over +10 telehealth employers including American Well and Roman on our platform, we’ve helped connect so many doctors to their first ever telehealth job.
For our existing Nomad doctors, getting started in telehealth is as easy as a search! Click here to view our current telemedicine job openings, which include tele-urgent care, teledermatology, and telepsychiatry jobs.
For doctors that are new to Nomad and are interested in telehealth or other clinical job types, click here to join Nomad for free and start your recruiter-free job search.
The Nomad Team