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 are also the specialties that are in short supply or are concentrated in the country’s urban areas.
Chris Gallagher, M.D., CEO of Access TeleCare discussed the role of telemedicine in more equitably distributing 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. Psychiatry, infectious disease, cardiology, hospitalist, maternal-fetal medicine, nephrology, endocrinology, 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. About 80 percent of counties in the U.S. have no infectious disease specialists. Of the country’s only 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.”
Learn more about the role of telemedicine in correcting the maldistribution of physician specialties here.