Telemedicine

The number of telemedicine opportunities available to physicians is increasing on a daily basis.  The telehealth landscape is constantly evolving as organizations, retail outlets, insurance companies, startups, and others have been exploring how to incorporate telehealth into the current healthcare landscape.  For some physicians, telehealth is a side gig, for others it is an adjunct to their clinical practice, and for some, it is now a full time job.
 

What kinds of telemedicine jobs are available?

Telemedicine continues to increase in scope, but has become commonplace for follow up of chronic conditions,  conditions where a physician exam is less of a necessity, prescription refills, and low acuity situations.  Several telehealth companies focus on these spaces.  In some situations, they will oversee care being provided by non-physicians in settings where physicians are not available, such as tele-hospitalist, tele-ICU, and tele-stroke situations. Certain specialties are more amenable to telehealth, such as pediatrics, behavioral health, radiology, family medicine, and many internal medicine specialties.  

How can I find these opportunities?

Searching online will bring up lots of telemedicine companies - most will list on the website whether they are hiring.  Try and search for ones that apply to your speciality.  Additionally, we have a telemedicine database on the group for when companies come to us seeking physicians.  Please feel free to sign up!

What are the advantages of doing telehealth?

Many physicians like the opportunity to earn side income during their free time, the ability to practice medicine remotely, and in some cases, to set their own hours and schedule.  Telehealth also offers you the opportunity to serve patients who may not have access to a physician secondary to shortages of primary or specialty physicians in their area or a physical barrier to being able to make office visits.

What prerequisite criteria do you need to meet to get a telemedicine job?

You are going to need a medical license, and many jobs will require being board-eligible or board certified.  You will need a license in the state where you are providing care, so many telemedicine jobs want you to have as many state licenses as possible.  Additionally, every state has different rules and regulations that you may have to meet in order to participate in remote care.  For example, in certain states, additional certifications may be present.  Things that will help you get a telemedicine job: 

  • Tune up your medical CV to be comprehensive, accurate, and focused, while staying relevant.

  • Figure out what additional trainings/certifications are necessary

  • Exhibit pleasant online behavior

  • Demonstrate a clean medical record without probation or negligence

  • Be able to work independently happily.

  • Have basic computer/technology competence.

  • Have your medical licenses ready in all states where your employer covers.

  • Membership in relevant professional organizations can help.

  • Necessary medical licenses in all applicable states in the employer’s purview

  • Membership in relevant professional organizations

Some training that could be helpful includes training in patient privacy and safety and ethical training.

What kind of hours will be required?

This is going to depend a lot from job to job.  Some jobs will have a minimum number of patients you have to see within a specified time frame (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc), while others will require you to be logged in for certain hours and see whoever comes during that time.  Some jobs allow you to do as much or as little as you want without committing to the hours you'll be working, while others have fixed hours to ensure the coverage that they advertise.

Who are your patients?

Depending on the opportunity, you may be getting patients who find your company online, patients who are seen within a certain medical system or corporation and offered telehealth as a benefit, or from your medical group/practice. 
 

What should you ask ahead of time?

  • Who your patients will be

  • What your role will be in their care (triaging acuity, providing prescriptions, creating treatment plans)

  • How you will be paid (W2 versus 1099, how often you'll be paid, and method of payment)

  • Are there benefits?

  • Is malpractice insurance offered?  If so, what type?  Is tail insurance covered?

  • How long are shifts are and what are the expectations during that shift

  • What type of technology do you have to learn?  How easy is charting and what requirements in reporting are there?

  • How long are shifts?  What is the policy for time off?  How are weekends, nights, and holidays handled?

  • What is your backup for support if you need it? If there is a technical problem, who can you reach out to?  If you want a second opinion for a clinical issue, who can you call now?

  • How do you follow up on patients? Who handles the follow up with the patients you see after you're gone?

  • Are there any special telemedicine regulations in the state where you work?

  • Are there regulations about how data is stored?

  • How long are the shifts and how frequently will they be available?  What are the expectations about less desirable shifts such as holidays, nights, or weekends?

  • Are the treatment options available to you limited by formulary or political concerns?

  • What is the business model?  

  • How long does the average consultation take?

Do you need any special equipment?

You will most likely be using a HIPAA compliant video-conferencing tool.  Therefore, you will need a good webcam ideally in a location with good lighting, as well as a computer.  Nowadays, there are more and more tools, including portable telemedicine kits with special diagnostic tools.  

How much will you make?
 

Reimbursements are all over the place.  Full time jobs often make between $150,000-250,000 (of course outliers are present, especially if someone picks up a lot of shifts or takes a lot of patients).  Some companies offer compensation per consult or per hour.  The compensation per consult ranges quite a bit depending on the platform, the complexity and average length of the visit, expected volume, and the specialty of expertise.  We've seen platforms offering as low as $15-20/consult, or as high as $60/consult.  Some companies give benefits while others do not.  Obviously, anytime you work for a company, there is a middleman, and if you already have a patient base or brand which would generate consultations for you, you may want to consider starting your own telemedicine business/practice, where you would keep a higher percentage of the consultation fees.

What if I'm bringing my own patients and want to start my own telemedicine platform? 

One of the first things to consider when you're bringing your own patients is whether you need to pay for a platform, whether your institution already has a built in telemedicine solution, or whether you can use a free platform.  If you have a patient referral source in place, there are several free or relatively cost efficient programs to consider. 

Resources:

The American Telemedicine Association: 

https://www.americantelemed.org

 

Of particular use is the state policy resource center page: https://www.americantelemed.org/policy-page/state-policy-resource-center

The Center for Connected Health Policy:

http://www.cchpca.org/

Disclosures/Disclaimers: This page may contain affiliate links, which may support us at no cost to you. We may charge companies that use our telemedicine database for our own time in getting involved, and that would be disclosed to you if we contact you with a potential opportunity.  We are not in the business of providing personalized financial, tax, legal, investment, or personal advice, and specifically disclaim any liability, loss, or risk which is incurred as a consequence, either directly or indirectly, by the use of any of the information contained on this page. This page is not intended to be a substitute for meeting with professional advisors. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of competent, licensed and certified professionals should be sought, who can help assess the appropriateness of any decisions in light of each individual’s specific goals, experiences, circumstances, and financial status.  Please do your own research and due diligence prior to making any decisions on the basis of anything you learn from our interactions or platforms.