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Analysis

More Physicians Pursuing Job Opportunities in Telemedicine

By Christopher Cheney  
   July 16, 2019

As the telemedicine market expands, an increasing number of physicians are seeking telemedicine employment.

A new survey shows several of the primary characteristics of physicians who are interested in pursuing telemedicine opportunities.

Telemedicine is one of the most significant growth areas in healthcare around the world. Last year, the value of the global telemedicine market was estimated at more than $38 billion, and the market is expected to be valued at $130 billion by 2025.

The lead author of a new survey published this week by San Francisco-based Doximity says the data sheds light on the kinds of physicians who are interested in practicing telemedicine.

"The main takeaway is there has been a focus on the patient side of telemedicine and not much on the other side of the screen. So, it's interesting in our survey to see there is variation in the types of doctors who are engaged with telemedicine, and as more patients turn to telemedicine there are more telemedicine opportunities for doctors," Christopher Whaley, PhD, an assistant adjunct professor at University of California-Berkeley's School of Public Health, told HealthLeaders.

Survey findings
 

The Doximity survey is based on data gathered from about 22,000 physicians who expressed interest in telemedicine job postings. The survey generated six key findings:

1. Job growth: From 2015 to 2018, the number of physicians reporting telemedicine as a skill doubled. "There has been steady growth every year. There is no reason to think that this trend will not continue to increase," Whaley told HealthLeaders.

2. Age distribution: The age of physicians interested in pursuing telemedicine was evenly distributed. Physicians aged 31 to 40 showed the highest level of interest at 28.4% of the total; but older physicians showed comparable interest, accounting for 23.5% of the total.

"We could have more young doctors interested in telemedicine because they are more tech savvy; at the same time, young doctors who are just starting out could have less employment flexibility. Older doctors who are more established could have more flexibility to do telemedicine," Whaley said.

3. Job status: About three-quarters of physicians who showed interest in telemedicine opportunities were working full-time in private practice or at larger healthcare organizations.

4. Gender: Compared to their male counterparts, female physicians were 10% more interested in pursuing telemedicine opportunities.

5. Geography: Physicians living in highly populated metropolitan areas showed the highest interest in telemedicine jobs.

"From our other work, we have found that doctors tend to concentrate in large metropolitan areas. In fact, the lowest compensation is often in the largest cities because there is an over-supply of doctors. At the same time, we know many rural areas have trouble finding doctors to practice in their communities. So, potentially, we could be seeing doctors living in a city like San Diego but practicing in more rural markets through telemedicine," Whaley said.

6. Specialty trends: The Top 5 physician specialties showing interest in telemedicine opportunities were radiology, psychiatry, internal medicine, neurology, and family medicine. The Bottom 5 specialties showing interest in telemedicine were anesthesiology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, and oncology.

"It is intuitive when you think about it. If you are having a telemedicine appointment, it is by nature done remotely. So, the physicians who are most interested in telemedicine are those whose training and specialty allows them to provide care remotely. Radiologists can read an MRI remotely and discuss the findings remotely," Whaley said.

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The number of physicians reporting telemedicine as a skill doubled from 2015 to 2018, according to a new survey.

The survey found that older physicians were nearly as likely as younger physicians to express interest in telemedicine jobs.

Among specialists, radiologists and psychiatrists showed the highest level of interest in telemedicine opportunities.


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