I decided to write this article because it’s a common question typed into a search engine. These curious minds end up on my site and often end up on my Teladoc article, where I talk about the income potential of telemedicine on Teladoc.
Working full-time doing telemedicine is perhaps the most miserable thing I can imagine. When I first started discussing telemedicine in 2015, I never intended to do it full-time.
The goal was location independence, patient access, and a better quality of life for the physician.
As a digital nomad physician, I want my clinical telemedicine work to add some income to my overall income portfolio. I wouldn’t want all of my eggs in the virtual health basket.
Earning Potential With Telemedicine
You can earn a full-time salary of close to $250k. That’s your answer. Now, go away. But the rest of you, please stay. I have more insights to share.
If you work for a large medical group or a direct-to-consumer (DTC) telehealth platform, you will get an hourly salary of around $120, and they’ll pay you extra for weekend and evening coverage. Usually, there are some bonuses if you see extra patients.
But why work for them? Work for yourself. Telemedicine is broad and undefined. It’s clunky and greedy. Start your telemedicine practice and see your own patients.
Charge a premium for these visits. You can charge $150-1,500 per visit. Source? Many physicians have successful virtual practices and doing the exact thing.
In fact, many non-physicians are earning even far more than that.
The Overhead is Lower
When you work for someone else, you get a set amount, and they profit from billing the insurance companies. But they have a lot of overhead.
When you run your private telemedicine practice, your overhead is relatively low. There is malpractice, the EHR, and some ongoing subscriptions. The rest is taxes and profits.
You can earn $200k and never have the headaches of seeing complex patients or catering to someone’s bad mood. Well, except your own.
You can earn $500k, and you’ll have to market well. We are talking about charging around $500 per consult here so that you can get away with a 20-hour work week.
The Current Payment Models
Even if you run a completely traditional telemedicine model where you bill the insurance company, the payout can be $100+ per patient. It’s just that it’s messy and it’s trading your terrible daytime job for a slightly less commute-heavy terrible after-hours job.
Many telemedicine companies offer their physicians $23-30 per patient. If you see 10 per hour, do the math.
Some will give you a base pay of $80 and a little extra for each patient you see.
Others, especially the super niche telemedicine companies, might pay you only $15-20 per visit.
The Equity Value of Your Telemedicine Business
One day when my private telemedicine practice runs smoothly and I have hired help to handle the heavy lifting, I can sell it for a profit.
You don’t get any equity when working for someone else.
I’m not convinced that in the future, there will be an opportunity to run your own telemedicine practice, but for now, it’s a viable business to run.
The Future of Medicine in the US
Medicine is becoming a highly regulated field. It takes 6 months to get a state license in TX. It takes 6 months to credential with the UCSF healthcare system.
This isn’t going to get better. We are getting more administrative tasks assigned to us, and I have to juggle the new rules and regulations, which creep from every corner.
Medicine will continue to generate a lot of profits. Citizens of the US will cling to the promise of health through pills more than ever before.
Another growing subset will be those who have health education. They understand that healthcare doesn’t deliver health and a pill is a very helpful short-term tool but not a cure.
This latter group also happens to be relatively affluent. They will pay you to share your opinion and expertise with them. I know this firsthand and I know this because I consult in this space.