Learn how to evaluate roles in virtual care and the nuances that matter when vetting new clinical opportunities — to ensure your license, and your livelihood, are always protected.
Telehealth has become a vital form of healthcare for patients all over the world. The pandemic left people confined to their homes with limited access to medical treatment due to social distancing.
Thanks to advancements in telemedicine, more patients and clinicians are resorting to virtual care to provide and receive treatment. According to a survey from McKinsey, 46% of patients now say they use telehealth for some visits, compared to 11% in 2019.
This trend is not slowing down anytime soon. Companies specializing in telehealth are seeing a significant boost in venture funding and experts say the U.S. telehealth industry is forecasted to grow 30% annually over the next five years. This is great news for clinicians looking to supplement their income or schedule with virtual care.
Working with a telehealth company is a new avenue for many clinicians. But, understanding how the opportunities and working structure are different in addition to the new technologies and regulations to get comfortable with, will give you the confidence to take the first step towards finding a position that’s right for you.
Review our guidelines for how to evaluate telehealth jobs so you can begin a successful career in virtual care.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth can be defined as the facilitation and delivery of healthcare services through telecommunication and digital communication technologies. Simply put, it allows clinicians to treat patients remotely through virtual mediums.
Virtual patient consults can be done synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous patient care happens in real-time, such as through video conferencing or live-chat. Asynchronous care is not in real-time and involves collecting medical data from patients. That data is then transmitted to a clinician or medical specialist for an assessment to be done offline.
Who can work in telehealth?
Today, telehealth companies are seeking clinicians in nearly all specialties. Whether you have a license in primary care or behavioral health, there are positions available for you to provide virtual care.
These clinician types are currently in high demand:
- Nurse Practitioners
- Physician Assistants
- Psychologists (PsyD and PhD)
- Psychiatrists (MD and DO)
- Therapists (LPC, LPCC, LMFT, LCSW, PsyD, PhD)
Typically, providers need to be board-eligible or board-certified and must meet the requirements for both the state and the employer for the given role in order to provide virtual care.
What are the benefits of working in virtual healthcare?
Telehealth holds a host of benefits for clinicians that ultimately can result in a better quality of life and more control over your schedule.
Virtual care is a way for clinicians to see more patients in more diverse clinical settings while facilitating access for underserved populations across the country.
Many people are drawn to work in telehealth because of the flexibility it provides — with schedules that can support better work-life balance.
In the wake of the pandemic, we’ve seen parents struggle to manage clinical shifts while balancing daycare closures and home-schooling. Healthcare providers shouldn’t have to sacrifice the needs of their families and personal wellbeing in order to maintain their careers.
Telehealth can allow providers to augment their schedules while cutting back on hours in brick and mortar facilities without having to sacrifice financial gains. Simultaneously, access to virtual care allows patients to receive suitable, timely clinical care when and where they need it.
Whether you want to see more patients, gain freedom and flexibility, or increase your income, virtual care may be a good option for you.
The benefits of telehealth for providers go on. Here, we’ve outlined the top 10 reasons to practice telemedicine.
Where to start your telehealth job search
If this is your first time scoping out telehealth job opportunities, you may not know where to find the best options.
Telehealth companies often post available positions on job posting sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. These postings will typically provide:
- General details about the position
- A company description including what patient types and treatment areas they serve
- State and license requirements
- Hours of operation and shift requirements
- Modalities (synchronous and/or asynchronous)
- Compensation details (hourly rate or rate per consult)
With Wheel, you can submit a clinician application and upon review, we will match you with vetted telehealth companies based on your experience and interests.
12 criteria for evaluating telehealth jobs
Before joining a telehealth company, evaluate the opportunity based on these criteria to ensure it meets your needs:
1. How does the telehealth company work?
When evaluating an opportunity, do your research to get familiar with how the company works and see if its values align with yours.
For example, if you are looking to expand your reach of care to serve more patients, look for a company with a patient-centered business model and learn about how they charge patients.
Telehealth companies charge patients differently — some collect a monthly fee while others charge per-consult. Investigate whether the company partners with specific health insurers or if it accepts various insurance providers.
Closely vetting potential telehealth companies can prevent you from getting into a questionable working relationship or being pressured to forsake some of your clinical independence.
If you are unsure of what to expect, reach out to the company to get the information you need to make an informed decision. Clinician testimonials are also helpful to better understand what your experience may be like.
2. What are telehealth shift requirements?
Many clinicians provide virtual care in addition to working in a brick-and-mortar setting. Look at the shift requirements for the opportunity you’re evaluating to determine if it complements or interferes with your other obligations.
Check out the company’s hours of operation and any minimum hour requirements that would prevent you from fulfilling the obligations of the position.
First-time telehealth providers may benefit from taking on short-term seasonal positions to test the waters and get acquainted with providing virtual care.
3. What are the service level agreements?
In addition to shift requirements, you’ll want to evaluate the company or client’s Service Level Agreements, or SLAs. This refers to the length of time you have to respond to a specific consult type.
For example, asynchronous SLAs can vary from a few minutes up to 24 hours or greater. In the case of a 24 hour SLA, you would have up to 24 hours to review a patient consult and respond to the request. This means you could technically be “on shift” during a block of time when you are dually working in the clinic or hospital — or even while taking synchronous virtual care consults — as long as you could block out time to respond to your asynchronous consults within the SLA time frame.
4. What is the compensation structure in telehealth?
Virtual care pay structure varies from company to company. Some telehealth companies pay clinicians per consultation and others pay an hourly rate. Make sure this is clear before you get started so you know when and how you will be compensated.
Based on the nature of the position and your experience, choose a position that offers the best pay structure for your needs.
5. What are the patient volumes?
Patient volume will determine if you will have a steady queue of patients or if you will be waiting around for consults. This can greatly impact your compensation if you are paid by the consult, so it’s critical to verify patient volume levels if you are evaluating a telehealth opportunity with this pay structure.
Learn about how patients are assigned to you and how scheduling is managed. See if you can find out the average number of clinical encounters you will be assigned per shift to make sure you’re maximizing your income while online.
6. What are the patient expectations?
Go beyond learning about the company and get an understanding of the patient experience. What brought them to seek treatment through the organization?
Find out what level of care these patients expect when receiving treatment through the company. What are the patient types and treatment areas will you be working with? What do the clinical protocols look like? Determine whether you’re comfortable in these areas or if additional training is available.
7. What are virtual care modalities?
Telehealth care can be provided synchronously or asynchronously.
Depending on the role, synchronous patient care is done in real-time, and consults tend to be longer than asynchronous consults.
Asynchronous consults are done by collecting information pre-submitted by the patient which is then assessed offline and can typically be reviewed within a matter of minutes.
Find out the exact nature of care you’ll be providing as some companies require both asynchronous and synchronous availability.
8. What is the telehealth platform’s usability?
Telehealth companies provide the technology platforms clinicians and patients use to provide and receive virtual care. Get to know the “virtual office” by scheduling a tour of the platform. This way you can see how it supports video consults, asynchronous consults, EHRs, e-prescriptions, and more.
Gain an understanding of how patients interact with the platform and see the whole picture of how patient treatment is carried out end-to-end.
Is this platform something you would be comfortable navigating? Does the company offer adequate tech support in case you run into any issues? These are all vital questions to ask before committing to working with a telehealth company.
9. What insurance and legal protections do telehealth companies offer?
It’s a lot of work to stay abreast of the latest clinical practice guidelines, let alone the rapidly evolving state-by-state laws and regulations governing telehealth. Unfortunately, some clinicians have found themselves in precarious positions thanks to telehealth companies who were either ignorant of the relevant regulations or overtly ignored them.
When evaluating a new telehealth opportunity, it’s important to weigh the company’s legal protections and regulatory adherence to ensure the business will act in the best interest of your license at all times.
Important legal issues to be aware of in telehealth:
- At minimum, the company should offer some level of professional liability protection in the form of medical malpractice coverage that covers the full scope of each virtual care consult. Some states require insurance to cover a specific amount of damages.
- ALWAYS operate within your scope of practice.
- Uphold the same standard of care that you would in an in-person setting.
- Ensure your clinical judgment is paramount. Even if clinical protocols are provided, at the end of the day, it’s your license and you should have the final clinical say.
Some companies, like Wheel, can provide guidance for obtaining additional state licenses.
10. How do lab orders, results, and medications work in telehealth?
An essential part of virtual care involves prescribing medication, ordering lab testing, and communicating those results to patients.
Protocols established by telehealth companies dictate what lab test you can order and what medications you can prescribe.
Telehealth clinicians need to be able to relay this information to patients, so it's important to learn about each virtual care companies’ policies relating to these areas.
11. What are the state regulations for telehealth?
Clinical licenses have different regulations for each state. For example, some states require nurse practitioners to have collaborative agreements with a supervising physician.
The best telehealth companies are familiar with these regulations and will provide support and guidance to ensure you are compliant in whichever state you are delivering care.
12. What are the license requirements in telehealth?
Virtual care positions normally require clinicians to hold a specific license. The job posting should outline what the minimum licensure requirements are for employment including how many state licenses are needed to achieve a reasonable consult volume.
Obtaining additional licenses and credentials may open more options for you to provide virtual care.
Find the highest quality telehealth opportunities with Wheel
Choosing the right organization to work with in virtual care is a critical step to ensuring your license, and livelihood, are protected.
At Wheel, we meticulously select our virtual care partners, vetting them to the highest clinical, legal, and regulatory standards. In addition, we advocate fiercely for our clinicians, providing better practice standards, less bureaucracy, and the best opportunities in virtual care.
Our mission is to change the way healthcare works by putting clinicians first. Learn more about working in virtual care with Wheel and check out our current telehealth opportunities today!