If you've ever thought about jumping into telemedicine but just aren't sure how, we're here to give you the lay of the land and help you decide if working in telemedicine could be right for you.
If you're a healthcare provider, there has never been a better time to start exploring a part-time job, full-time job, or future career in telehealth. More employers are offering telemedicine services as part of their health insurance benefits, and employee telehealth utilization is increasing. This drives up the need for qualified telehealth providers and offers physicians work-from-home employment alternatives to practicing in a traditional office or hospital setting.
In this article, we explain the two primary types of jobs in telemedicine, review telehealth employer types, describe what it's like working in telemedicine, and outline how to explore telemedicine job opportunities.
Types of Telemedicine Jobs
There are two primary types of telemedicine jobs: the type you commonly think of in telemedicine—synchronous, or virtual video consults—and asynchronous, also known as store-and-forward.
What is synchronous telemedicine?
Synchronous telemedicine is a medical visit that happens in "real-time" through a virtual patient-doctor consult.
Typically, these are video visits through a secure and private platform—where a patient and a doctor discuss an issue using webcams and microphones on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
In practice, this looks like an urgent care provider assessing symptoms of a sore throat and fever, a psychiatrist managing a patient's medication, or a primary care provider conducting a follow-up visit with a patient. Synchronous telemedicine visits are extremely convenient for patients to receive care, especially sick people and not up to leaving the house.
What is asynchronous telemedicine?
Asynchronous telemedicine is when a healthcare provider reviews a patient's medical information at a separate time without live interaction with the patient.
It's called store-and-forward because clinical patient data (X-rays, photos, medical assessments, documentation) is acquired and stored in a secure database or the cloud and then forwarded to a specialist at a separate site for clinical evaluation.
In practice, this allows specialists and primary care providers to exchange information and help develop an informed diagnosis or treatment plan without needing to meet with a patient all together at the same time. This allows for multidisciplinary care teams to conveniently and securely collaborate across locations and even time zones.
Common examples of asynchronous telemedicine jobs include optometrists reviewing prescriptions and approving requests for glasses, physicians prescribing erectile dysfunction or birth control based on medical assessments, or a dermatologist reviewing images of rashes or other skin conditions and determining a diagnosis.
What Are the Hours in Telemedicine Like?
Clinicians from all specialties are jumping on board with telemedicine because of the incredible flexibility it offers. Employers offer both part-time and full-time positions, and you can choose to work a set schedule or jump online when you have time to see patients.
Telemedical care is needed 24 hours a day / 7 days a week, so providers are needed at all times of the day. This means some providers are opting to live in different time zones—or countries entirely—and provide care when employers need it most. (For example, a provider could live overseas and work the "night shift" in the US during daytime hours across the globe.)
Typically, video consults last an average of 10 minutes (based on data from telehealth platform AmWell), meaning you can safely see about 5 patients in an hour's worth of work.
For asynchronous telemedicine, the average consult lasts 4 minutes. A clinician can perform these consults at any time of day because the patient is not "live." Medical assessments are sent to the clinician's inbox, and the expectation is the physician or nurse practitioner reviews the consultation within 24 hours.
What Are the Types of Telemedicine Employers?
You can practice telemedicine as an independent consultant—working directly for a telehealth company/multiple companies—or through an existing practice. There are benefits to both and deciding which is best for you depends on many factors.
Working for Multiple Telemedicine Companies
The easiest option for healthcare providers looking to get started in telehealth is to sign up with a telemedicine company and start taking virtual patients.
Since telemedicine companies offer flexibility in schedules, many providers choose to work for multiple platforms. This lets you "try out" different employers and determine which companies suit your schedule, your desired patient flow, and offer the benefits or salary structure you prefer.
Popular telemedicine employers include Doctor on Demand, MDLive, and Docademic.
How Do You Find a Job in Telemedicine?
Just like any other job, there are numerous job boards that feature telemedicine jobs alongside non-healthcare positions. However, the easiest way for physicians to find reputable telehealth opportunities is to join a telehealth clinician network like Wheel. Wheel is the only telemedicine network focused on putting clinicians first and sourcing digital healthcare job opportunities that are vetted to the highest standards of care.
How many hours do you want to work? Where are you licensed? What is your specialty? By answering a few upfront questions, we can quickly discover the virtual healthcare jobs that are right for you.
If you're considering a career change, listening to telehealth podcasts can be a great way to stay current about telehealth trends and opportunities.
Start Exploring Telehealth Jobs
With so many options for working in telemedicine, it's a great opportunity for physicians looking for supplemental income or career alternatives to practicing traditional in-office medicine.
Check out Wheel's telemedicine jobs to start exploring opportunities.