Among the many benefits of working as a locum tenens doctor is the ability to combine medicine with travel. Locums have the opportunity to visit all sorts of destinations, both here and abroad, all while working as self-employed contractors. But what if a doctor doesn’t really like travel? Can he or she still be a successful locum?
While travel remains a big part of the locum lifestyle, there is an emerging trend that could offer doctors another option. That trend is one of utilizing telemedicine to offer contracted services to multiple facilities from a single location. At first glance, it appears to be a perfect marriage between facilities in need of locums and doctors who prefer to not travel.
Institutional Telemedicine Model
Combining telemedicine and locum tenens currently occurs under two models. The first is the institutional model. It is a model that relies on a healthcare facility, like a regional or city hospital for example, to act as the hub of communication between doctor and patient.
Under this model, the hospital is the coordinating force. Patients schedule appointments through the hospital and its administrative staff. Hospital nurses are on hand to help coordinate care at the time of the visit. When the doctor-patient visit actually takes place, the patient can be at the hospital or at home. In either case, the visit takes place via the hospital’s computer network.
This model allows hospitals to maintain control over delivery. They contract with their locums just as they would if bringing in temporary doctors in to meet staffing needs. They also handle scheduling and billing just as they would for traditional office visits. The only difference from the delivery standpoint is that doctor and patient meet via telemedicine rather than face-to-face.
Freelancer Telemedicine Model
The other model for delivering telemedicine is the freelancer model. This is a model that is already gaining traction in a world dominated by smartphones and their many apps. Freelancing brings available doctors together with technology partners to provide on-demand medicine to a core group of patients not necessarily loyal to traditional norms.
Under this model, a locum tenens physician can contract his or her services to multiple medical technology platforms simultaneously. For example, a doctor could contract with three different platforms, giving each one 15 hours of his or her time per week.
Freelancing dictates that the doctor is still self-employed and working under contract. He or she can shop services around to as many medical platforms as necessary to maintain a full schedule. Doctors can also supplement their freelance work with contracts from hospitals and clinics.
All Medicine, No Travel
A thorough examination of how telemedicine works makes it clear why it could be the answer for doctors who want to practice as locums but have no interest in travel. Telemedicine and locum tenens were not made for each other, but they certainly fit together very well. Combining the two means all medicine and no travel for the doctor who prefers to stay in one place.
Telemedicine is also one of the answers for healthcare providers continuing to struggle with staff shortages. Being able to serve more patients from a single location increases efficiency and reduces the load being put on doctors. Telemedicine works so well in this regard that it is surprising more hospitals have not yet embraced it.
If you are a locum physician who only travels out of necessity, you might want to investigate telemedicine opportunities. Telemedicine is still in its infancy, but it is bound to grow and expand at a faster rate as time goes by.