How to Prepare for a Career in the Growing Field of Online Medicine

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know for a fact that medical and healthcare systems in the United States have come a long way. From the medical technologies utilized for improved results to the innovations that take patient care above and beyond the conventional, there’s no stopping the industry from evolving. The end goal? To deliver patient care that is faster, more affordable, more accurate, and more efficient than ever before.

The introduction of 3D-printed medical and health products. The development of trackers, biosensors, and wearables to detect, monitor or remotely manage chronic health issues. Personalized and precision medicine for a number of health problems. Robotic check-ups that involve medical robots roaming hospital rooms and getting patients’ vitals.

All these have become prime examples of top industry feats with tangible and measurable results that continue to drive significant shifts in medicine and healthcare.

Care Delivery Innovations with Online Medicine

You may have heard about patients turning to their computers and other devices to reach out to an “online doctor” or access “online medical services”. More and more people are also searching for “eHealth” or finding out how to leverage “online healthcare”. The industry dubs these non-conventional options “telemedicine” or “telehealth”, either of which specifically points to the electronic exchange of medical information to address patient needs. Other associated terms include “teleconsultations”, “tele-laboratory” and “tele-diagnostics” that involve electronic transmission of still images, videoconferencing, audio conversations, and other means.

In the past, telemedicine was meant to give patients in remote areas access to professional consultations and healthcare. At present, patients find themselves completely able to obtain both using information technology and telecommunication.

All these uncover a wide spectrum of health technologies and online medical services that are delivered or monitored beyond traditional clinical settings. Simply put, the key takeaway is that wherever you are and whatever time of day, you have access to the medical or health care services you need.

A Growing Sector Known for Patient Benefits

Online medicine, as far as popularity and use among patients go, is a growing at record rate. Apparently, patients are opting for the innovative way of making their medical and health care needs met—and for all the right reasons.

In conventional medical appointments, it’s not uncommon for patients to complain about delayed schedules and long queues in physician’s waiting rooms. They also risk exposing themselves to others who are sick or infecting others with their sickness. Insurance and billing issues are not new either, and can be extremely frustrating for patients who simply want the medical and health consultation and care they deserve.

Patients are quick to shift to practices that let them skip the inconvenience. Business advisory firm Kaufman Hall predicts that the virtual health market, with an estimated value of $19.2 billion in 2014,  will grow to a staggering $43.4 billion by 2019.

It Benefits Medical Professionals, Too

Considering their patients’ lifestyles and the state of their profession, doctors are increasingly integrating online medicine services into their practice to enhance patient-physician interaction and collaboration. By embracing online medicine for streamlined communication processes with their patients, doctors reduce bottlenecks not only in their offices, but also in operating and emergency rooms.

Streamlined procedure isn’t all there is to it, though. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, a medical degree costs up to $264,564 for in-state, private medical school. In establishing their medical practice, doctors spend roughly $120,000. Setting up an online practice, on the other hand, costs anywhere between $20,000 to $25,000 only. Add that to better work hours and more free time, and the enhanced ability to set up service charges.

While there are limitations to it that are yet to be overcome—such as patient data confidentiality and security concerns, data collection issues, and technical, logistical and regulatory challenges—online medicine patient satisfaction numbers are on the rise owing to the ease, convenience, and cost savings that this option brings to both doctor and patient.

Become an Online Medicine Professional

virtual doctors - online medicine

As online medicine services continue to innovate, many physicians now contemplate taking an active part in fostering a future of streamlined patient interaction processes and efficient medical and healthcare services while also enjoying its benefits to their practice.

If you have been considering it yourself, here are four helpful questions to ask. We underscore a number of elements leading to success in online medicine practice:

What are the medical devices used in your specialty?

The devices you need as you service with telemedicine will depend on your specific field of focus. Today, several modular and scalable online medicine systems that you can start with are at your disposal. Get an ENT scope, an examination camera, and a digital stethoscope as your basic devices. As you progress with your program, you can consider upgrading these.

Do you have the right video conferencing and communication platforms?

A satisfactory remote encounter with your patient is fundamental to online medical practice. When dealing with critical diagnostic data during live interaction, doctors need to do so in real time and securely. Investing in a web-based eHealth portal, both on the software and hardware fronts, can give you a head start.

One of the biggest perks of online medical practice is that it does away with expensive infrastructure in the form of a clinic or doctor’s office. What you need instead—and this is extremely important—is a reliable, uninterrupted, and consistent bandwidth so that the virtual interaction and data sharing are never compromised in any way.

Are you and your staff trained to provide virtual medical services?

 Med school training may have honed you and your staff members into top-rated doctors and healthcare providers, but you may have always had the conventional market in mind. There is certainly no need to undo it all; virtual doctor service should be just as dependable as the ones in hospitals and clinical settings. Familiarity with modern technologies and tools goes a long way for a successful integration of online medical services into the practice. There are also organizations dedicated to training, education, and support for delivering online medical and healthcare services to patients, such as the American Telemedicine Association.

What is your online medicine practice implementation or integration timeline?

To establish a clear view of your goals, develop a timeline. Give enough time for you to assess your market. The online medicine market may not be new but the industry is clearly directed toward embracing it. Also, make sure you have ample time to order, install, test, and troubleshoot your equipment. You and your clinical or administrative staff need to be fully prepared as well before commencing with your online medical services.

Exploring online medicine has become quite common among doctors. Get the right information and tools as you prepare for a career in this ever-growing field.