Telemedicine, particularly specialty telemedicine, is perfectly suited for the non-procedural specialties — those specialties that depend more on physicians’ diagnostic and treatment management capabilities rather than procedures.

These specialties are in short supply in many communities across the country, and are often concentrated in urban areas. Access TeleCare’s specialty telemedicine programs give hospitals of any size timely access to top telemedicine specialists, delivering the best telemedicine solutions for communities that would otherwise have limited or no access to specialty care.

Chris Gallagher, M.D., CEO of Access TeleCare, discussed how telemedicine specialties can contribute to a more equitable distribution of cognitive physician specialties in an Executive Q&A with Healthcare IT News:

“All the “cognitive” specialties are perfect for telemedicine. These are specialties that aren’t procedure-based. Behavioral health, neurology, infectious disease, cardiology, hospitalist, maternal-fetal medicine, nephrology, pulmonology and critical care all can be delivered via telemedicine in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. The keys are having a high-quality specialist trained in the practice of telemedicine – delivering care over a screen, having a commitment to creating a connection with the patient and their family or support network, and building a collaborative relationship with on-site nurses and other clinicians.

In addition to these specialties being “cognitive,” they are also the same specialties that are in short supply. We know there aren’t enough psychiatrists, enough infectious disease specialists, or enough MFM specialists, for example, to care for the population.”

Here are the top specialties for telemedicine, and why they make a great fit for virtual care:

Behavioral Health

  • The current shortage of psychiatrists has grown to 9,000 and is expected to grow to 13,000 by 2030.
  • Demand is growing – 21 percent of adults are experiencing a mental illness, which is roughly 50 million people.
  • 55 percent of adults with a mental illness receive no treatment.
  • Behavioral health care consists mostly of talk therapy and medication management, making it well-suited for virtual care.
  • Telemedicine gives emergency departments, inpatient units, Med-Surg and ICUs, and behavioral health hospitals timely access to experienced behavioral health specialists, whenever and wherever they are needed. This means that behavioral health care can be provided to vulnerable/rural populations that otherwise would have no access to mental health care.


  • Telemedicine is the key to overcoming the significant neurologist shortage.
  • Access TeleCare teleNeurologists respond to all emergent consultation requests in under fifteen minutes, improving door-to-needle times and delivering rapid diagnoses.
  • Timely access to neurologists helps hospitals retain more patients by identifying patients who do not require a transfer.
  • Access TeleCare’s teleNeurology program delivers everything from emergent stroke care to complex inpatient neurology care, including consultations for Parkinson’s, neuropathy, myelopathy, the management of seizures, and stroke follow-up care.
  • When delivered in acute care settings – teleNeurology has the potential to increase revenue by 80%!

Infectious Disease

  • 80 percent of counties in the U.S. have no infectious disease specialists.
  • With timely access to ID specialists, hospitals can retain and treat patients experiencing complex diseases, regardless of location.
  • Access TeleCare specialists manage hospital-wide antibiotic stewardship programs.
  • Telemedicine enables hospitals to better manage and plan for outbreaks.


  • Hospitalists available 24/7 support on-site teams that may be short-staffed, overworked, and struggling with burnout
  • Telemedicine delivers full coverage for nights and weekends and supports hybrid models of care.
  • Expert hospitalists reduce transfers and increase appropriate admissions by managing care and treatment plans from admission to discharge.
  • TeleHospitalists reduce ED wait times by moving patients to the appropriate department for care sooner.

Pulmonology and Critical Care

  • Critical care specialists reduce transfers and give on-site teams the resources and guidance to care for more patients post-surgery.
  • Telemedicine is the ideal solution to manage volatile ICU demand, providing coverage when it’s needed and reducing costs when it’s not.
  • Access TeleCare goes beyond reducing transfers to enhance the patient experience.

Maternal-Fetal Medicine

  • Of the country’s 1,800 maternal-fetal medicine specialists, 96 percent practice in major urban areas, leaving vast areas of the country without access to their expertise to consult on high-risk pregnancies – those where the pregnant individual is older, carrying multiples, or has a chronic condition, such as diabetes or hypertension, for example.
  • Telemedicine enables hospitals to provide care for more high-risk pregnancies.


  • Access TeleCare’s cardiology telemedicine programs increase hospitals’ case mix index by up to 20 percent.
  • Reduce readmissions with comprehensive follow-up care and management available throughout the hospital.
  • Telemedicine builds trust quickly with the local community by maintaining patient-centered care and reducing the travel burden for local residents.


  • Telemedicine enables any hospital to maintain 24/7 nephrology care in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
  • Access TeleCare’s board-certified nephrologists help hospitals diagnose, treat, and manage patients with common renal conditions.
  • TeleNephrology programs can help hospitals reduce length of stay and increase the retention of higher complexity nephrology patients – read this case study to find out how.

With constant and timely access to advanced specialty medicine experts, telemedicine delivers comprehensive specialty care solutions for hospitals in all 50 states. This is much more than a doctor on a screen, it’s a sustainable and revolutionary way to deliver complex care for patients right where they are, right when they need it.

Learn more about the role of telemedicine in correcting the maldistribution of physician specialties here.