My Faster Telemedicine Course has inspired some great questions. Especially relating to how to make money with telemedicine. Working for a telemedicine company is the first step; you’ll gain familiarity with how telemedicine is done. The telemedicine company will fully train you until you’re comfortable to get started.
After a few hundred patients you will identify the patients who aren’t well served with traditional telemedicine. There are groups of patients who need either faster care or more detailed care. Identifying these gaps will help you figure out how to make make your own money with telemedicine.
Per Diem Telemedicine
As doctors, we’re independent minded. We don’t like working for anyone else, we prefer to create our own paths. But I want to make an argument for making your life easier by earning money from telemedicine as a per diem physician.
What’s wrong with having 3 telemedicine clients for whom you do telemedicine work? Perhaps Teladoc, Roman, and Oscar. You’ll have plenty of work and opportunity to earn an income.
If per diem work isn’t your jam, you can find part-time and full-time positions. You’ll work a set schedule and get all of the benefits of being an employee.
Private Telemedicine Patients
It’s possible for you to build a private group of patients who are willing to see you only on your telemedicine platforms. Especially you’ve gotten to know these individuals well over the past few years, you might convince some of them to become your private patients on telemedicine.
The problem with this tactic is that you’d have to recruit these patients from your current employer. And that’s a big no-no.
But if you end up leaving your medical group, and you end up working per diem, well then, these patients can follow you if they choose to.
Alternative, you can recruit such patients. I would recommend looking for patients in your vicinity. Anyone who is a working parent or a busy professional or travels a lot. These individuals will likely appreciate the convenience of telemedicine.
Starting a Telemedicine Company
One of my healthcare consulting clients has started his own telemedicine company and has physicians working for him. I like this idea and it’s a good way to use your management skills to earn money for yourself.
Consider a niche telemedicine company. Otherwise you will have to compete with Teladoc and Doctor on Demand. These companies aren’t making a lot of money because they are constantly competing with each other to charge the lowest fees.
Whoever comes out ahead with either a target audience or having incredibly higher patients satisfaction scores, they will be able to charge a lot more.
As they say, in retail, whoever charges the least gets the most customers. But in the service industry, the best companies charge the most.
Serving the Market Gap
The market gap in telemedicine right now is primary care and specialty care – basically anything that’s not acute care. The reason that such individuals aren’t captured is because there is no good health insurance reimbursement for them. Which isn’t stopping DPC doctors from making good money.
1. Needing Easy Access
There are patients who just need regular non-physical follow-up in order to manage their medications, place routine blood work, and address a few complex case management issues.
Most patients who just need lab work placed, are shood off to their PCP’s.
There are many patients with STD’s who aren’t served well because most of telemedicine is super conservative. We are taking advantage of the patients who have an access need and we’re charging them money for a quick consult. But we refuse them STD management, sleep medication refills, lab orders, etc.
Instead of me listing 25 different unserved telemedicine populations, it’s better to think of the group of individuals who are being marginalized. Those who don’t feel that their concerns will be adequately addressed by mainstream healthcare – whether in person or virtual.
3. Chronic Disease
Chronic disease patients, whether with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, or Psoriasis, will switch insurance companies and doctors eventually, as they change jobs or locations.
They want regular follow-up with one doctor they can trust.
Another group of individuals are the active athletes who are regularly injured or have questions about their health and their exercise routines. They want guidance and aren’t looking for a diagnosis or medications.
They want dietary suggestions and physical therapy routines; they want to know if they are down for the count or if all they have to do is modify their exercise.
5. Lab Requests
Some patients just want lab tests ordered and interpreted. Though many labs will allow patients to order their own labs, it’s hit or miss. And finding cheap labs and choosing the right test isn’t easy. And the patient will then have to track down a doctor to interpret their results.
6. Wearable Technology
With a lot more weatbale technology coming on the market, patients will want their results interpreted. Ideally they want a way to upload their sleep results, their EKG tracing, their oxygen and heart rate reports to a virtual doctor and get a proper interpretation.
Another group just needs a refill. They don’t want to be evaluated for a disease. They don’t want to retell their entire disease history and their allergies and then have to figure out where to go for their refills.
They simply want the same damn acyclovir refilled. They want their birth control medications, their glaucoma drops, their allergy medications, and their prostate medications refilled. That’s all.
These individuals will appreciate an easy intake form minus the humiliation. And for the lower cost, they are willing to go to this virtual doctor and never have to worry when and where they are going to get their medications.
Acne has a barbell distribution, with the young and the middle-aged who need regular access to an acne doctor. Sometimes they need nothing more than their Retin-A refilled. Other times they will need oral antibiotics along with topical treatments to subdue a flare.
Young first-time moms may want regular access to a doctor who is comfortable with pediatrics. They want to be able to report every scratch or bump to this doctor.
They want to be guided through lactation troubles and have their personal postpartum issues addressed.
I’ve listed only a few groups. I’m sure you’re creative enough to know whom else we’ve excluded; those who identify with others like themselves and want to have a doctor who “gets them”.
If you have a particular medical condition yourself, consider that disease. You’re probably a better expert in that than your own physician.