To get started as a telemedicine physician, whether full-time or simply as a side hustle, can be a complicated process. There are some key questions to keep in mind when trying to find a telemedicine physician job. Learn how to stand out and get hired, and what a good candidate for telemedicine looks like.
Telemedicine is a medical practice that utilizes technology for remote care delivery.
As a telemedicine physician, you will use telecommunications technology like online chat, video chat, and phone to communicate from one location with patients in another.
What Does a Telemedicine Physician Do?
Telemedicine physicians diagnose and treat minor, non-emergency, non-threatening conditions like ear infections, flu symptoms, and abrasions. They also provide ongoing care for patients with persistent health concerns, including:
- Helping chronically-ill patients manage their illnesses
- Managing pain
- Administering medication prescriptions
- Monitoring those recovering from recent surgery
In some telemedicine practices, they may also be accountable for junior personnel supervision.
Why Practice Telemedicine?
There are many great reasons to practice telemedicine, not least among them: convenience and the ability to practice remotely.
As a telemedicine physician, the care you provide will be both more efficient and affordable for patients than a standard doctor’s office visit, giving you the potential to help more people, including, most particularly, those lacking access to a physical practice.
What’s more, as a telemedicine physician, you can work full- or part-time, and some telemedicine jobs will even allow you to create your own schedule. You can even continue maintaining your in-person practice while you practice telemedicine in your off-time.
How to Become a Telemedicine Physician
To be a telemedicine physician, you must already have completed your medical training and be either a board-eligible or board-certified doctor. Without a valid medical license, you will be unable to find work as a telemedicine physician.
From there, you must meet all the relevant criteria of both the state and the employer for the given role. For example, as it applies to telemedicine and telehealth (the general non-clinical practice of remote healthcare using telecommunications technology,) states may have different rules and regulations regarding physician-patient encounters, both in general and via telehealth, and the on-site presence of a telepresenter, NP or medical assistant.
Whatever a particular state’s requirements, one commonality among them all is that you can only be hired as a telemedicine physician in a state where you hold a valid medical license.
Finding a Telemedicine Physician Job
When seeking work as a telemedicine physician, consider the following factors about any potential position:
How many patients will you be responsible for or required to see? Are there quotas, and, if so, are they daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly?
How much flexibility will you have over the number of patients you see, the frequency with which you see them, and the duration of your appointments each televisit?
Will you be attending to the general public, a health insurer’s members, a corporation's employees, or some other group? What will they be seeing you for, primarily, and what will you be expected to provide in the encounter? For example, will you be prescribing medications, setting out treatment plans, or making referrals to other specialists?
2. Payment Terms
How much will you be paid, and how will that pay be remitted? Is the job salaried or a wage position? Are there benefits?
Will taxes be taken out or will you be responsible for paying them? Will you receive a W-2 or 1099 at the end of the year?
Will you be paid per session, weekly, or in some other increment, and how will you receive that payment: by check, direct deposit, or otherwise?
How long are the shifts and how often? Will you have any say or flexibility in that schedule? Will you be asked to work weekends, holidays, or overtime?
How does the technology platform you will be using work? What are the steps you will go through in a standard appointment? What sorts of reporting after each appointment will be required?
4. License Requirements
Besides a state medical license in the state where the practice is located, what other medical licenses or other credentials are required for the position? This may be a factor, in particular, in certain specialties where additional training and certifications may be necessary.
What kind of support will you have available to you while you perform your duties, both technically and medically? Will there be other doctors or NPs you can communicate with for feedback on a decision about a patient? Is there technical support available to help you with your telecommunications technology in real-time if you encounter a problem?
Can you order any medications available or only certain types? Likewise, can you order any types of labs or only certain ones, and how do you follow up on results?
What sort of insurance will you be required to obtain, such as malpractice insurance, and is any of it provided or paid for by the employer?
What are the telemedicine regulations in the state you’ll be practicing?
What are the regulations relevant to your work that you will be expected to know and abide by?
Can you work from your home or office, or must you come to a company office? What sort of telecommunications technology will be provided and what will you need to know in order to use it?
8. What is the company’s business model?
How does the business earn money? For example, is it a subscription-based service in which patients pay a monthly fee for care, or must they pay for each consultation?
Or has the company partnered with a health insurance company to provide its member's telemedicine care for a share of the premium, or with a corporation to offer such care to its employees?
How To Stand Out and Get Hired
While jobs for telemedicine physicians are increasingly abundant, so too is the competition for these roles. To stand out from the other physicians competing for these same positions, bring as many of the following assets to the table as you can:
- Provide a complete, focused, relevant, and accurate medical CV
- Have a good online demeanor
- Have a clear record of providing quality medical care
- Demonstrate a solid sense of moral and ethical responsibility and a demonstrable propensity for personal accountability
- Show competence in basic telehealth and telemedicine skills
- Necessary medical licenses in all applicable states in the employer’s purview
- Membership in relevant professional organizations
On that last item, you can select from a range of professional organizations to join designed to serve and support the telehealth and telemedicine communities.
Joining such an organization gives you an opportunity to network with other physicians and medical professionals already involved in telemedicine work and learn more about the area in general.
Wheel is one such professional organization geared to empowering your success as a telemedicine physician. With Wheel, you can practice telemedicine across a host of telecommunications platforms.
Wheel was built as a pure destination for telemedicine physicians (MDs and DOs) to provide greater opportunities for physicians to practice and continue offering timely, personal, effective care to patients in these ever-changing times.
Simultaneously, Wheel is also working constantly to improve the work-life balance for all its members. With Wheel, you can practice telemedicine with more flexibility and support and less bureaucracy.
Wheel matches physicians with telemedicine opportunities through a range of healthcare partners. Wheel helps facilitate lab requisitions, virtual monitoring of patients, and remote diagnosis and treatment. To get started with Wheel, fill out a short screening form to help Wheel learn more about you, your background, your skills, and your needs. Wheel can then work with you to find the most appropriate matches for you and the patients you see.
Who Makes a Good Candidate for Telemedicine Work?
Telemedicine work may be a good fit for you if you:
- Have a specialty that you can perform long-distance.
- Can present a friendly, engaging demeanor over video-conferencing.
- Communicate clearly and succinctly enough to be understood over a video call.
- Are a good listener and can easily read a patient’s facial cues and body language, even through a video screen.
- Have a space where you can consult privately, securely, and uninterruptedly with patients long-distance.
- Have the technology required for telemedicine work and both the ability and willingness to use it.
- Have the initiative and self-motivation to work effectively outside of an office environment.
- Have the confidence in your abilities and trust in your own discernment to provide medical opinions without needing to run anything by a colleague or seek a coworker’s assistance.
- Can prioritize well and are not averse to multitasking, due to higher patient volume and the lack of support personnel like receptionists or medical assistants to perform basic administrative or routine medical tasks.
The Most Telemedicine-Friendly Specializations
For certain specialists, like surgeons, telemedicine simply won’t work. For a host of others, however, telemedicine opens far more doors than it shuts, such as:
- Telemedicine Family Medicine
- Telemedicine Psychologists And Psychiatrists
- Telemedicine Radiologists
- Telemedicine Pediatricians
- Telemedicine Cardiologists
- Telemedicine Gastroenterologists
- Telemedicine Endocrinologist
Of course, you don’t have to choose just one or the other: a physical, in-person practice, or telemedicine work. You could opt for a hybrid option instead that combines both forms.
Partner with Wheel
Wheel links telemedicine physicians with patients in need of remote medical care. By partnering with Wheel, you can make your life as a telemedicine physician easier than you’d imagined possible. Even if you already work full-time at a hospital, private practice, or clinic, you can still work with Wheel part-time in a side telemedicine practice.
1. Is There Any Special Training for Telemedicine?
Besides proper training in whatever telecommunications technology and, of course, the necessary medical training relevant to the particular role, there is unlikely other special training you will need for a telemedicine physician job. However, that’s not to say you (and your job search) cannot benefit from certain types of additional training.
For example, you may benefit from other types of training appropriate for a telemedicine physician’s job, such as:
- Proper telehealth etiquette
- Patient privacy and safety matters over telemedicine
- Telemedicine ethics
2. How Does Telemedicine Work?
There are several ways you may conduct visits as a telemedicine physician, starting from a basic video call. Quite likely, however, you will be required to use a secure video-conferencing tool that is HIPAA compliant.
Some telemedicine physicians conduct their visits using a portable telemedicine kit consisting of a computer and relevant mobile medical devices, like a vital-signs monitor or an ECG. Telemedicine kits may also include a high-resolution digital camera so you can transmit precise medical images to other specialists.
Still another option is to use telemedicine software that provides data storage in addition to video-conferencing tools.
These are just a few of the most common telemedicine tools and technologies being utilized today. In this rapidly-growing field, however, you can expect newer and more improved technology still to be coming out at a pace to match: technology that increasingly meets the needs of remote patients and telemedicine physicians alike.
3. How Much Do Telemedicine Physicians Make?
As of this autumn 2020 writing, telemedicine physicians in the U.S. make approximately $192,454 per year.
4. Do Telemedicine Physicians Get Benefits?
Some telemedicine businesses give their full-time physicians benefits.
5. Is Telemedicine a Proper Form of Care?
Yes. Telemedicine has proven to be an effective form of care that is approved by many organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), who stated:
“The AAFP supports expanded use of telemedicine as an appropriate and efficient means of improving health when conducted within the context of appropriate standards of care.”
6. Is Telemedicine Growing?
Telemedicine is undoubtedly growing, and at a rapid pace. In one study, Telehealth: A Technology-Based Weapon in the War Against the Coronavirus, 2020, researchers forecasted a continuing shift in health care delivery away from the physical and toward the virtual, creating promising possibilities for remote health care in the coming years. Frost & Sullivan predict telehealth will grow sevenfold by 2025, making for more than a 38% compound annual growth rate over the next 5 years.
To get started as a telemedicine physician, whether full-time or simply as your side hustle, partner with Wheel and get everything you need to do what you do best: help patients.