08 July 2016
In a country driven by advances in technology, it isn’t surprising that telemedicine is quickly gaining speed. Originally conceived in the early 20th century, today, technology such as smartphones, quicker internet connections, and video conferencing tools are not only changing the way care can be delivered, but also the way patients interact with their providers. Working in tandem with the Affordable Care Act’s initiatives to expand access to healthcare and encourage providers to shift towards an outcome-based care model, telemedicine has many benefits for health practitioners and consumers alike. On one hand, telemedicine can help extend quality patient care to more remote areas of the country where certain specialists, such as psychiatrists, may be more difficult to find. Rather than travelling a long distance to receive care, for instance, that patient can utilize video technology to “meet” with a physician who might be from a different state. For providers, telemedicine can be an excellent (and convenient) way to communicate with patients and ensure they’re keeping up with their treatment plan, or supplement their income with part-time opportunities. Due to these benefits, telemedicine has experienced a lot of growth in recent years. In fact, the American Telemedicine Association found that more than 15 million Americans received some degree of remote medical care last year—a number that they project to grow by 30% this year. Another study conducted by Avizia, a telemedicine platform company, reported that 72% of the hospitals and 52% of the physician groups they surveyed have a telemedicine program in place. According to Barbara Tamberlane, Senior Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Physician Recruitment division, the growth of telemedicine is a trend that she has observed with her clients. “Several of the organizations we work with have recently come to us with some telemedicine hiring needs,” she says. “These opportunities are something I did not see two years ago, but they are certainly increasing in popularity. As they do, we’re seeing that telemedicine is a great career path to pursue for providers pursuing either part-time or full-time work. Since hours are typically set and you can work from pretty much anywhere, telemedicine can provide you with the flexibility you may need to see patients while pursuing other professional or personal interests.” If you are interested in taking advantage of this hiring trend, here are the questions that Barbara suggests you ask when considering a job offer: What is the level of commitment? In telemedicine the schedule is typically set, so it’s important to ensure the opportunity’s hours and days align with your schedule. For example, those interested in part-time work will want to double check that can commit to the shift before accepting the offer. Is there ever a need to go on site? If so, how often? Though this is a remote job, some organizations do require you to visit the site on occasion. “These visits can range from once a week to once a quarter,” explains Barbara. “If you need to go in, you want to ensure the location is easily commutable.” How is the job compensated? Practitioners who work within a telemedicine setting can be compensated in two different ways: per hour or per patient seen. What will work best for you depends on your personal needs, so the terms of compensation are something you will want to consider before committing to the job. Is the role eligible for benefits? If you are going to pursue telemedicine as a full-time career path, you’ll want to make sure the employer offers a benefits program. “Many of these employers do offer benefits, particularly for full-time opportunities, so this is important information to find out,” notes Barbara. Is malpractice insurance covered? Although you will be seeing patients remotely, malpractice insurance is important nevertheless. Wherever you interview, you’ll want to do your due diligence and ensure you are covered.