With the recent rise of Direct-to-Consumer telemedicine companies such as Teledoc, it’s easy to assume that a typical telemedicine visit pairs patients with healthcare providers who work for companies that specifically supply hospitals and clinics that prefer outsourcing telemedicine physicians. For many young adults for whom the lack of a designated primary care provider is not an issue, this may not appear to be a problem. However, among providers and hospitals, some clinicians are finding that switching to an in-house telemedicine system affords several advantages to both the provider and patient; it appears that the shift away from outsourcing telemedicine doctors has begun.
Thus far, hospitals and clinics have been outsourcing telemedicine physicians to relieve overworked staff—at unknown risk to their reputation and patient outcomes. Now, though, they are finding that with the right tools, such as HD cameras, stethoscopes, and ultrasounds, providers can see more patients in a more efficient manner than before while collecting and adding medical evidence to the patient’s health history. Better triage also helps direct patients to the most appropriate level of care, thus reducing wait times and redistributing patient needs across the facilities.
By switching to in-house telemedicine solutions, hospitals and clinics are also discovering other advantages such as:
- Attracting and retaining young adult patients – Millennials and Generation Z strongly prefer telemedicine visits to in-person appointments and are accustomed to customer service experiences through apps with immediacy and convenience. Thus, they are selecting providers who offer the same type of attention.
- Reaching the underserved – By partnering with school-based health centers, addiction treatment centers, and infectious disease specialists, hospital telemedicine programs can eliminate onerous travel times for patients, making care more accessible and easier for those with advanced conditions.
- Remote Patient Evaluation – Providers are increasingly relying on RPE to provide post-acute care after surgical procedures and hospitalization. By monitoring the patient consistently and initiating timely interventions when needed, these systems can reduce readmission rates and keep patients healthier.
- Enhancing physician recruitment and retention – The U.S. is expected to experience a shortage of 90,000 doctors by the year 2025; hospitals are scrambling for new ways to entice physicians to stay at their facilities. With in-house telemedicine programs, hospitals and clinics can offer flexible hours, work-from-home arrangements, less travel, and other such perks to attract new providers.
Thus far, telemedicine has largely focused on getting the patient in front of the doctor—any doctor—via smartphone screen, tablet screen, or computer monitor. Hospitals and clinics, squeezed by pressure from internet-savvy patients and advocates, initially turned to outsourcing telemedicine solutions to meet the demand for immediate high-tech attention. However, as the industry has matured over the last few years, providers are finding that perhaps in-house telemedicine programs are best after all for the patients’ continuity of care, convenience, and quality of care. And even young adults without a primary care physician can’t argue against that.
To learn more about insourcing telemedicine, visit MedCityNews here.