A Window Into the World of a Physician Researcher
December 10, 2020
Discover the benefits of treating patients remotely and get tips for succeeding in this new healthcare frontier.
November 19, 2020
As we continue to work through the pandemic and the physician shortage, virtual visits and other telehealth services are becoming a more prominent part of almost all physician jobs — from primary care and family medicine jobs to specialty roles at hospitals. Some hospital systems, especially in rural areas, list 100 percent telemedicine jobs for physicians who can provide specialty care from afar.
These terms are often used interchangeably; however, they have different meanings. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), telehealth is different from telemedicine in that it encompasses a broader scope of remote healthcare services, while telemedicine includes only remote clinical services.
Telehealth is defined by the CDC and the Health Resources & Services Administration as “the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
There’s certainly a limit to what types of care physicians can provide through a tablet or computer. For bloodwork, important tests or certain physical examinations, only in-person visits will do. But virtual visits can be a convenient way to see patients for straightforward follow-ups or check-ins.
Here are some types of visits that can be handled virtually:
The success of telehealth is greatly aided by new technologies that can screen patients and assist with remote testing. The Digital Innovation Group of our parent company, Providence, has been working on exciting advancements, including remote Cardiology analysis and other life-saving telehealth technologies for rural patients.
Dr. Mahmud Al Furgani recently began a position as a telehospitalist with Providence. Telehospitalists are critical for rural hospitals, helping patients avoid travel or experience long waits for important treatments.
Dr. Al Furgani’s primary mode of virtual care is unique in that his patients physically go to a medical facility and interface with nurses there, while he consults with them from his home. A nurse uses a telepresenter to facilitate Dr. Furgani’s examination, diagnosis and treatment from the hospital exam room.
When it comes to screening symptoms before treatments even begin, artificial intelligence has proved useful. Providence built an AI chatbot named Grace in 2018 to help point patients to the right clinician based on symptoms for nonurgent issues, like UTIs or colds. In the spring of 2020, however, Grace was tweaked to help manage the influx of patients asking about coronavirus symptoms.
Grace can understand the nuances of the English language and is able to tell a person whether or not they should be tested for COVID-19 based on their symptoms and who they’ve been in contact with. As a result, overworked nurse practitioners are relieved of the added burden of screening hundreds of thousands of potential coronavirus cases.
Once a reliable technological solution is established, virtual visits can be incredibly convenient for patients and can increase revenue for health systems. But providing care digitally does present some challenges.
Dr. Furgani says that during his virtual visits, eye contact takes on a higher level of importance, especially during the pandemic. “The COVID experience for patients, it makes them anxious, but it’s more than that. There is a lot of fear,” he says. He recommends trying to ease some of that fear by making good eye contact and treating every patient with warmth and kindness. He also recommends getting to know the technology you’ll be using to help prevent any tech-related errors.
Follow this list to set yourself up for successful virtual visits with patients:
It may be hard at first to foster patient confidence in telehealth services, whether it’s a chatbot or a video call. But according to a J.D. Power consumer study, once patients do get on board, their satisfaction ranks extremely high. Even before the pandemic ramped up in the United States, telehealth was an industry slated to grow.
In one form or another, virtual care is here to stay. If you’re interested in telemedicine physician jobs, search our jobs page for positions in telehealth or contact a physician recruiter today to learn more.