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In the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has altered how many physicians and Americans are looking at medicine. Instead of the typical doctor's office visit, many Americans are now looking at telemedicine options. Telemedicine, according to the AAFP, is "the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance." Telemedicine allows both the physician and the patient to meet digitally from wherever they are, with no actual doctor's office visit.
Telemedicine also does not require a certain experience level. Whether you are a newly graduated resident or fellow, or an experienced physician, telemedicine might be a great option. Telemedicine can be utilized by those who want to practice telemedicine full time, by those gaining experience, or by those who are cutting back on hours.
As a physician, you have no doubt heard about, or experienced physician burnout. Having flexibility in your schedule can help alleviate that feeling. With telemedicine, you are not going to multiple locations throughout the day, like the hospital or clinic. Instead, you will work from your home or an office to treat patients. This provides enormous flexibility to your schedule since you will no longer have to worry about working during "regular" business hours. With telemedicine, you can set your working hours, so it makes sense for you and your daily life.
Telemedicine has no set work hours, so you can work full time or part-time. Some physicians will supplement their current income by working part-time doing telemedicine.
Before you can start practicing telemedicine, you will need to undergo training and may need to order the necessary equipment. This can be a challenge for some physicians who are not familiar with the software or the new equipment. Make sure to block off time in your schedule to learn how to use the program and equipment correctly.
You are still responsible for being HIPAA compliant, even if you are not working in a hospital or clinic setting. Make sure that any programs or equipment you are using will keep you compliant. With the pandemic, there have been adjustments in what video programs are considered compliant, but that can change. Stay up to date on the current policies to ensure you are not in violation.
Communication is critical for telemedicine! You will not be in an exam room with the patient, so having strong verbal and nonverbal communication skills is essential. You will be responsible for not only talking to your patient(s) but also passing on information to support staff and other providers. If you struggle with charting, practice! You should also practice working with a webcam if you are not well-versed in using a webcam. Practice diagnosing and speaking with patients over a webcam to become more confident and work on your communication skills.
Are you looking for more help deciding on a practice type? Then check out the PracticeMatch physician articles!
Hayley Woszczynski - Physician & Program Relations Manager. You can stay connected with me on LinkedIn for all of the latest PracticeMatch articles and upcoming events.