Acute Care Telemedicine Goes Beyond the Big Three with Telemedicine-as-a-Platform
Acute care telemedicine provides access to specialty physicians where and when they are needed most. What was once extraordinary—a physician providing care by video consult—is now commonplace for many specialties. Increasingly, acute care telemedicine goes beyond the big three (teleNeurology, telePsychiatry, and teleICU) to other specialty models, such as hospitalists. And, telemedicine is now much more than staffing. Increasingly, hospitals and other providers are taking advantage of established telemedicine platforms to provide better patient care throughout the enterprise and across the continuum of care.
An organization can utilize a telemedicine platform to help provide physician capacity to settings where limited or no access exists today, helping to solve major cost challenges when staffing for remote locations, nighttime coverage, or demand surges. Driven by physician shortages, geographical barriers, and financial obstacles—telemedicine-as-a-platform is growing in popularity.
How Hospitalists Use Telemedicine to Optimize Resource Allocation
Hospitalist program providers have to manage resource obstacles around variable programs and recruiting challenges resulting from short-term resource demands. By using a telemedicine platform to enable optimization of hospitalist resources across facilities, many of these challenges can be alleviated. A scalable and flexible enterprise-wide telemedicine platform helps manage an telemedicine program that makes the best use of limited resources, coverage optimization, and expense management.
Supply vs. Demand
Demand for hospitalist coverage often exceeds existing provider availability, but not always enough to warrant additional full-time hires, who would be underutilized. A telemedicine program enables the fractionalization of hospitalist capacity across multiple facilities to avoid the unwanted expense of unnecessary hiring.
24/7 Program Coverage
Around-the-clock coverage is another constant issue in hospitalist staffing. Programs need night-time coverage, but demand doesn’t always justify the addition of costly nocturnists. Implementing a telemedicine program enables the sharing of individual hospitalists across multiple hospitals or facilities, maximizing their utilization and revenue, even at night.
On Demand Access to Care
Last minute staffing of a hospitalist is challenging, especially without enough lead time. Costs can escalate to twice or three times the market rate in order to meet these last-minute coverage gaps. Whether for a single shift, a weekend, a month, or longer, a telemedicine program can help facilitate the rapid deployment of hospitalists to disparate hospitals and enable doctors to pick up incremental hours, even at the last minute.
An example of how SOC Telemed (SOC) helps a leading physician practice improve its hospitalist program is our recently announced partnership with Sound Physicians. Sound Physicians partners with SOC for its national telemedicine operations. Focused on improving quality and lowering cost of care for acute care episodes, Sound Physicians uses the Telemed IQ platform to extend its clinical reach. The partnership enables Sound Physicians to help their hospital partners control their costs with fractional and incremental FTEs. Their clients also gain access to physicians that might not ordinarily be in their community.