If the last few months have taught us anything about ourselves, it’s that we are adaptable. With technology at our fingertips, and a global pandemic in our backyard—many of us have adapted to performing crucial tasks that once required going out, from the comfort and safety of our own homes. We’ve learned we can sustain our careers from home, do our grocery shopping from home, workout at home, and now, even visit the doctor… from home.
At a time when many outpatient doctors’ offices are closed—it is no surprise that there has been a sharp global decline in in-person patient visits. However, the temporary closures of these offices have not stopped the need for medical care—and for that reason many doctors have adapted to using telehealth practices to diagnose and follow up with their patients.
While telemedicine has been around for years—many people who never saw a need to check it out—are now giving it a try, and liking it. As a safe, quick, and convenient way to seek treatment, telehealth use is expected to grow, even after Coronavirus health concerns subside. If you’re a primary care physician who hasn’t thought about jumping in on this trend—now may be a good time. Here’s why it makes sense to get started in telemedicine:
You can make your own schedule
As a telemedicine physician, you can make your own hours—allowing yourself flexibility to work early mornings, nights, or weekends. This is particularly beneficial if you’re in between jobs or are looking for supplementary income during times when your schedule allows for it. Your income will depend on how many patients you are able to see per hour each week. You can adjust as necessary, depending on what your needs are and the company you sign up with.
Virtual check-ins can be more efficient
While doctors’ offices still certainly serve a purpose—the logistics for patients of visiting one can take away from the short time the doctor and patient actually have together.
Virtual visits will save your patients time—leaving them with a more positive experience overall. Patients will no longer have to commute to an office or spend hours in waiting rooms. This means they’ll be more likely to schedule follow-ups, and stay on top of their care.
A virtual appointment can also provide more insight into at-home life than an in-person visit. By using telemedicine, you’ll be more likely to understand what your patients’ home conditions are like, and if their circumstances could affect their condition in a positive or negative way.
Telehealth offers a wider patient pool
As a board-certified telemedicine physician, you can treat patients anywhere within the state(s) you are licensed in. This makes your care more accessible to others, and allows you to form new relationships with a broad range of patients, who you otherwise would not have been able to see.
New opportunities are available and expected to come
Virtual care is more affordable and accessible to patients than it’s ever been. For example, health insurance providers, like Medicare, are expanding their horizons. While Medicare used to have very strict guidelines around telehealth visits, it was recently announced that Medicare will now pay for telemedicine at the same rate as in-person visits, and loosen up their guidelines for receiving care. Private insurance companies such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield have also implemented changes—temporarily waiving copays for telemedicine visits for many of their plan members. While temporary changes such as these are feeding the current demand for telemedicine, the outcome will certainly have long lasting effects on the “new norm” for healthcare. As a physician, that means a greater opportunity to help people.
Getting started is easy
If you’re interested in getting your feet wet in telehealth, the good news is it’s easy to get started. The onboarding and credentialing process is a lot quicker than an in-office job process, and you can start working as soon as you’re approved.
There are many companies available to register with, and the technology at hand makes the process seamless. If you’re weighing your options—it’s best to speak with a recruiter who can help guide you on next steps.