A fully virtual medical practice can be an exciting prospect. You have the freedom to work from anywhere, that too at a much lower overhead than a full-service operation. The feasibility of a virtual practice as you are aware varies by specialty.
Another critical thing to remember at this point is that you donât have to go virtual âentirelyâ to enjoy the flexibility of telemedicine. Thatâs right. Many practitioners enjoy fewer days in the office, more favorable scheduling and increased revenue by integrating telemedicine into an existing practice. There are advantages and drawbacks to both and this precisely what we shall be discussing right here – Our second post in the series âStarting Your Telemedicine Practice.â
Hereâs how you can incorporate telemedicine into your existing practice
If you already have an office up-and-running, you can introduce telemedicine into your existing operation. Make sure whatever you set up is HIPAA compliant to secure your and your patients’ information.
This is beneficial for the fact that you can utilize your current staff and infrastructure in your newly set up telehealth company while still getting the flexibility of telemedicine.
1. You wonât have to manage your own schedule
To take advantage of the low overhead of virtual practices, many practitioners schedule for themselves or allow patients to plan their appointments within the telemedicine platform. While this is an excellent option, it can get slightly challenging if you donât have a virtual office manager to handle this. By working with your existing staff, you have a team of people who can take care of scheduling for you.
2. Phone calls and questions are managed through your current practice
Again, if youâre running a low-overhead operation, after hours call or post-visit questions will come to you directly. Yes, thereâs no need to have a separate email or phone number.
3. You can add flexibility, but you wonât be able to hit the road quite as much
By keeping brick-and-mortar, you will likely have to be at the clinic on a regular basis and see in-person patients as well. While that probably isnât different from what youâre doing now, it wonât be quite as flexible as a fully virtual operation.
Telemedicine is a better option for a doctor who wants to reduce travel between sites than a doctor who wants to be across the country for half of the month.
What happens when you decide to have a fully virtual practice?
1. You really can practice anywhereâ¦ as long as your medical license allows
Most state laws, medical licenses allow you to treat patients in the states where you are licensed as long as the patient is located in that state. There are a handful of states that are more restrictive than that, so you will want to check with the board to make sure that your license allows it. By going entirely virtual, you can maintain continuity of care regardless whether youâre in the mountains or on the beach.
2. You have to be strict on protocols
Regardless of the specialty, virtual practices need to have very clearly stated and documented clinical protocols for who you do and do not treat, and how those diagnoses and treatments can be treated safety via telemedicine. You want to be clear about what you donât treat or prescribe, and you want to make that information available to patientsâeither through intake paperwork or a consent form. Also, donât forget to stay up to date with your state laws.
3. You wonât have to hire staff if you donât want to
One of the most enticing parts of a virtual practice is incredibly low overhead. You can save lots of bucks. You donât have to hire staff as you will be automating a lot of the paperwork and managing many of the administrative tasks yourself.
You will want to honestly look at your capabilities here. There are a lot of physicians who are better doctors when âmanagedâ by an office manager who takes care of the administrative tasks. Thatâs okay! There are others who appreciate the flexibility so much that theyâre able to shoulder all of it.
A virtual office manager is a great way to offset some of that burden, but you can save the money if you think youâll be able to answer phones, manage your own schedule and address the technology.
4. Youâre going to have to do some marketing
Weâll cover this more in our next post in this series, but if youâre starting from scratch, youâre going to need to get the word out about your practice with effective marketing. You wonât have a big sign on the highway to drive patients to you. It will require a marketing budget and a professional who can launch a full campaign or, at a minimum, some creativity, and a little sweat equity.
So which do you think is best for your practice? At Mend, we can help you launch either. We offer the simplest-to-use platform on the market that can be up-and-running with just a few clicksâ once you decide how you want your new virtual practice to run.