Let’s face it, telemedicine is a new and exciting movement that helps both medical professionals and patients alike. Innovation and change can ultimately cause pain at first, and being a telemedicine physician can be a real pain in the gluteal cleft! Luckily I found a few ways to ease the symptoms, and now for any physician like me looking for innovative ways of using their MD (or DO), telemedicine is a godsend…with a capital G. Whether it’s synchronous telemedicine (à La Teladoc, Doctor on Demand) or my personal fav, asynchronous telemedicine (à La HeyDoctor), having an outlet to treat patients and earn income outside of the smelly, grimy, cacophony of the Emergency Room was a unicorn wrapped in a pipe dream when I finished residency in 2009. A decade later, and Eureka! The future is here.
If you are looking to do telemedicine, i.e. treat patients via phone, video, email or chat, my advice is: ABSOLUTELY do it! And my follow-up question is, where have you been? You’re getting left behind. Telemedicine is not going away and is only becoming more ingrained in the healthcare delivery system. In the right settings, with the right execution, it is the best and brightest option for patients and physicians.
I could write and tell you about all the benefits and superlatives about telemedicine, but I want to focus on 3 ways telemedicine can make your life more complicated. Spoiler alert!
First, to do telemedicine and increase your job options you have to get licensed in as many states as possible. Historically, physicians were licensed in 1-3 states. Now physicians are getting licensed in as many as 30- all 50 states. Why? Because state medical licensure is required to provide telemedicine services within the state where the patient resides.
Telemedicine companies want quality physicians who are abundantly licensed. Don’t be a miser (aka penny-pincher) Dr., your time is better spent treating patients rather than filling out paperwork and trying to reason with a medical board that functions about as smoothly and rationally as the DMV. Find a licensing service that will do the work for you. The good ones have licensed in a state multiple times (and in multiple states) and they know the ins & outs of how to get it done as efficiently as possible. Choose one that has their own credentials management software; one place to upload and store all your credentials.
Getting licensed, is without a doubt, a worthwhile investment. If you don’t, you will miss out on telemedicine opportunities and the opportunity to work smarter. Years from now, you could be that doc whining about how your telemedicine colleague, who may (or may not) wear pants while seeing patients, is making the same income from the comfort of his/her couch…you’ve been warned, now get ‘er done.
Second, once you have all these state medical licenses, you have to renew them every 1, 1.5, 2 or sometimes 3 years (depends on the state). All licenses expire on different days and keeping up with them can get complicated. Again, open up your wallet a little and let someone else handle the complexity for you. Invest in a credentials management software that keeps all your credentials in one place and provides you with automated expiration notifications. Also, invest in a service that will renew your licenses for you. There are subscription services where you pay a little every year for someone else to monitor your license, license renewal requirements and the actual license renewal. Put your licenses on auto-pilot; the last thing you want is anything to expire and then have to re-engage with the medical board to get a license reinstated. The reinstatement process can be equally as burdensome as the initial license application.
Finally, now that you have all these licenses you now have to get über organized with your Continuing Medical Education (CME). You have to know what the CME requirements are in all the states in which you are licensed. And you have to know if that state has any state specific course requirements in order to renew your license. No state is alike when it comes to requirements. I know I am sounding like a broken record, but find a credentials management software that includes CME tracking where you can store your certificates, track your total CME and state-specific CME, as well as a software that allows you to automatically create a transcript of all your CMEs and share your certificates from one place. State medical boards will do random audits of licensees, and you don’t want to get caught unprepared.
If you have questions about anything covered here, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I love this stuff (telemedicine & tech)!
Never quit, keep learning…