I am a US trained family medicine physician and I interviewed with a new telemedicine company the other day specializing in a niche demographic – men. There are several such specialized telemedicine companies and I see the online market dividing into such niches because the demand and marketing allows for it.
One of the main reasons this telemedicine company – Roman – has been successful over others is because of their solid branding job. For Roman it’s not just their branding but they are genuine about the care they offer.
For the record, I am not advertising Roman – I could give a rat’s hairy ass if you use them or not. I love telemedicine and mention any worthwhile telemedicine company on this blog. And there are plenty other shitty ones out there which I will tear to shred (Teladoc).
Update: I ended up getting hired by Roman and enjoyed my work there until I was terminated. Read this post to find out about my work experience there. Or listen to my podcast recording about my Roman review for physicians.
This niche telemedicine company offers their physicians less than $20 per patient visit but they make up for it in volume and the ease of the visit.
The patient is asked a bunch of pertinent telemedicine and ED related questions and then they are connected with a physician. This isn’t proprietary information, the process is shared openly on their website.
This company is less than a year old and they have a small team. They want to hire physicians who will review the charts and prescribe the appropriate medication to male patients.
Because the team is small and the company is young this is a great opportunity to obtain a clinical officer role. Entering at the right time is critical which is why I applied. Update: they have since grown quite large and have maintained a fantastic reputation.
I have less need for income at this stage in my life but a strong desire for satisfying work. I feed off productivity.
I would rather make $10/patient and love what I do than $100/patient and suffer through every single patient visit. This is a privileged position to be in for a clinician and can be achieved by figuring out the finance game early and solving the financial dependency problem.
A company that offers lower compensation might have a unique competitive advantage if they can recruit the right talent. I am more interested in the future potential of a telehealth company than the immediate compensation.
Out of the seven telemedicine companies that I have worked for I have been able to get consulting roles with two. Only one of these two paid me substantially for that role. I want to continue building on this income stream.
The physician recruiter for this niche telemedicine company was a physician himself and he scheduled a 30-minute telephone appointment with me.
For every job you apply for it helps to have a unique CV. Sending the same resume to every company you apply to will be low-yield.
He asked me if I would be interested in a management role because he believes that his company would benefit from my expertise. This is the 3rd time in the past two years that my resume has been flagged for a higher position offer than what I applied for.
We also connected because we were both jovial and had a similar vision for telehealth. My observation with medical startups has been that they are a lot more relaxed and casual which is an important thing to keep in mind when you interview with them.
Closing the Deal
I don’t like my time wasted and I’m sure interviewers feel the same. After the niceties are done with I jump right into nitty-gritty.
I shared with the interviewer what my impression was of his company and asked if that was accurate. Good. Next I told him that I am interested in the work and the two things most important to me are time flexibility and upward mobility – is that feasible? Yes. I would like to get started as soon as possible, so what are the next steps and how soon can I get started?
A no-nonsense approach can be a little harsh but if delivered tactfully can land you the job on the spot and get you started in the right direction.
We agreed on a start-date, we set up the on-boarding meeting, and I will go through yet another credentialing process – oh joy.
It’s tougher for a clinician to open a brick and mortar office and select which patients they want to see and turn others way. However, telemedicine allows for exactly that.
Marketing drives the digital traffic to a specific telemedicine website and that population is whom you will treat.
If I had to generalize then I would say that female patients or the overly worried male patients are incredibly time-consuming and demanding. They are hard to please and often make a lot of medication demands.
There are a few telemedicine companies which tailor their services to a specific demographic. Birth control telemedicine companies such as Nurx have done well in this regard.
There are far too many players in the telemedicine game right now. Fortunately the demand is there and the income is fair for the low amount of work that’s expected of clinicians.
Niche telemedicine companies will have a huge advantage over general practice telehealth platforms because they can focus their design, marketing, and data collection on a unique demographic.
The fact that companies haven’t tapped into demographics such as those with STD’s, tinnitus, neuropathy, diabetes, back pain, osteoarthritis, IBD, fibromyalgia, obesity, and bipolar disorder demonstrates how young telehealth is.
I’m getting a good number of emails from doctors who are trying to do the telemedicine thing but are having income flow problems due to the lower seasonal telemedicine volumes. I’m having the opposite problem.
I did a consulting call with a doctor on the east coast who is trying to generate all his income from telemedicine. He helps run his wife’s business and has a lot of downtime with that gig.
Having multiple state licenses and choosing the right telemedicine companies is important. And once you are credentialed it’s important to connect with the right people at each telemedicine company in order to get dibs on shifts and patients.
This doctor would have also benefited from mixing in some chart review work either for his state or with a private group.
Update on the job
I initially wrote this post May 2018 and since then I got the job and worked for Roman for a few months until I had my run-in with the medical board. Even though my medical board deal had nothing to do with any patient related outcome, Roman decided to terminate me right away.
It’s disappointing because it goes to show that just like a brick and mortar HMO, an online telemedicine company is there for one reason: to make money. It’s not about prioritizing patients, patient care, or good physicians.
When it comes to getting your medications as a patient as quickly as possible with the least resistance, Roman is your best bet. They have expanded their product line to push lots of other medications which many other telemedicine companies have stayed away from.
This business style is great for the telemedicine company which wants to make as much money as possible and put more dough in their investor’s pockets. But it’s obviously not the ideal situation for patients who often end up getting bumped from one medication to the next until they can eventually connect with the right doctor who will listen and approach their health not by throwing a medication at them but by addressing all potential issues.
So if you’re a physician reading this and your goal is to make easy money, Roman is the right gig for you. They have an absurdly high patient volume and you don’t document anything. Just be sure to read your state’s telemedicine rules to make sure you remain compliant.
If you’re a patient then I think Roman is the absolute easiest and cheapest way for you to get access to commonly requested medications. Just be aware that the reason many other telemedicine companies are not prescribing these medications is because they realize that patients often have complex medical histories and that the underlying cause should be addressed rather than just being given a medication.