The technological developments of the last two decades have transformed the ways we connect and communicate with each other, and the healthcare industry has been significantly altered by this evolution. Today, it is possible for a physician to provide patient care without being in the same room or even the same region. Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, is an umbrella term for telecommunication technology that allows physicians to engage in patient consultation and monitoring from afar, makes patient data accessible to any authorized user regardless of their location, and allows healthcare providers to collaborate with peers and specialists remotely.
Three examples of telehealth technology:
- Live Video Conferencing allows physicians to provide remote consultation services to a patient or discuss their case with a medical specialist.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) involves monitoring and recording a patient’s health with an electronic device and transmitting the information to a healthcare provider for review.
- Store-and-Forward (SAF) technologies are saved asset collections that can be shared among authorized users. These electronic patient records can include x-rays, photos, and clinician notes.
The growing use of telehealth technology
Adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) in hospitals has increased dramatically over the last decade, due to the HITECH Act of 2009. In 2015, 84% of surveyed hospitals employed at least a basic electronic health record system, an exponential increase from just 9% in 2008. Researchers are testing how remote patient monitoring (RPM) can improve post-event patient outcomes and decrease hospital readmissions. And Mercy Virtual Care Center, launched in 2015, is a facility devoted entirely to virtual healthcare. Located just west of St. Louis, Mercy Virtual provides a broad range of services to physicians, healthcare facilities, and patients across the country.
This care model is especially beneficial to rural and underserved communities who lack convenient geographical access to healthcare establishments and providers.
Leveraging telehealth for recruitment
At its best, telehealth offers valuable services to underserved, isolated populations that would otherwise have limited or no access to medical care. It can positively affect time-critical decisions to improve patient care and outcome. But it also begs a question for healthcare organizations: What does telehealth’s industry disruption mean for recruitment and retention?
Enabling healthcare providers to collaborate remotely on patient treatment is a win-win for everyone. Patients receive access to quality, timely medical care. Providers are able to share expertise and make better treatment decisions. Increasing a provider’s ability to exceptionally care for their patients will lead to higher job satisfaction and retention. Advanced telehealth capabilities can also help recruit top providers interested in exploring this mode of patient care.
On the other hand, research shows that physicians believe in telehealth’s ability to improve access to healthcare and continuity, but that it’s not always easy to implement. Issues such as inadequate training, reimbursement issues, or even frustrating tech experiences can lower satisfaction with or be a barrier to telehealth procedures. It’s important not just to recruit tech-ready healthcare professionals, but to have rigorous training programs and high-quality telehealth applications ready to go once they arrive.
Organizations must be strategic in managing the challenges and benefits of telehealth systems in ways that serve the needs of both healthcare providers and patients. In the healthcare industry’s highly competitive marketplace, those who achieve that balance will have an edge in retaining current employees as well as recruiting new hires.
For more information on physician recruitment, contact Jordan Search Consultants at 866-750-7231 or email us.