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How Telemedicine Can Reduce The Shortage Of Physicians

Those who are in the know about the healthcare industry have been hearing for some time about the shortage of physicians in the country, and the challenges that will present for an aging population. One recent article by the Annals of Family Medicine predicted that by the year 2525, America will be short up to 52,000 physicians. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, this can only make the problem worse.

There is a solution right here, right now. Telemedicine can help alleviate the shortage of doctors in a number of ways.

Telemedicine can provide access to specialists for rural hospitals

Hospitals in remote parts of the country have felt the brunt of the shortage of physicians more than anyone. It is very, very difficult for them to recruit, train, and retain physicians when higher paying jobs in urban areas are recruiting them. With these limitations, it is not unusual for a rural hospital to encounter patients who have conditions they have not seen before. If these smaller rural hospitals can be connected via telemedicine networks to larger medical centers, the quality of care for patients there is improved, without an increase on the staff.

Make the pool of available physicians wider and more available

The reach of telemedicine is not limited to this country, it can, and has spread the world over. Special fields such as pathology and radiology can be amendable to internal telemedicine. Hospitals can be greatly empowered by connecting their patients with physicians from around the world to give them access to doctors with skills they otherwise would not be able to provide, or to provide at a reasonable cost. This has the effect of increasing the number of available physicians in the country, helping to alleviate the shortage problems.

Increase the utilization of available physicians

Today more than ever, the time of a physicians is valued. Yet they still have to deal with canceled appointments, and this leaves them with no patients to see and extra time on their hands for which they are not compensated. This also cheats patients who desperately need to see a doctor and cannot get an appointment. Telemedicine is ideal for helping doctors make good use of this down time.

When doctors can make the most out of their time, the shortages are not nearly as much of a problem. These are just a few of the many ways telemedicine can be used to relieve what is inevitable, a shortage of doctors for a population that is growing older, and not just in the United States.