Locum Tenens Telemedicine: The Key to Expanding Access to Specialized Healthcare

May 1, 2024 | Workforce Solutions

Telemedicine’s expanding role in healthcare is reshaping access to specialized care, offering a vital solution to traditional barriers such as distance to facilities, long wait times and provider shortages. A particularly promising aspect of this evolution is the integration of locum tenens—interim physician and advanced practice providers who offer care where it’s needed most. 

Aya Healthcare facilitated a focus group of medical leaders at the American Society of Neuroradiology (ASN) conference where we gleaned valuable insights into the opportunities of telehealth. The findings transcend across the healthcare spectrum, emphasizing the need for technology improvements, patient-centric care and the seamless integration of telehealth into various medical specialties.

The Push for Equitable Coverage

 The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of telemedicine, demonstrating its critical role in maintaining patient care continuity, especially in specialties like neurology and radiology. This experience highlighted the necessity for access to care and the development of secure, sophisticated technology platforms that can serve a diverse range of medical fields. 

A Strategy of Expansion in Concentrated Specialties

Healthcare experts at the ASN conference discussed the potential of creating concentrated brick and mortar specialty centers that utilize telemedicine to extend their reach, ensuring patients everywhere have access to expert care. This model requires addressing the technological and diagnostic challenges inherent in remote healthcare delivery.

The Hurdle Around the Technology Landscape

While the demand for telehealth services rises, a need emerges for a unified technology solution that prioritizes security and efficient medical image assessment.  

Some of the proposed solutions include imaging and camera modalities, increased security and firewall—as well as locum tenens staffing—for both inpatient and outpatient needs. Aligning operations through improved communication and technology can ease the integration of locum tenens into diverse practice settings by facilitating collaboration and data sharing.

Optimizing Communication and Information Sharing

Effective information transfer is also pivotal in telemedicine. The focus group members highlighted a need for scribes or medical assistants who can help document and transfer patient information to telemedicine providers efficiently.  

During the focus group, Dr. Ryan Hakimi, Director of Neuro ICU and TCD Services at Prisma Health Upstate, suggests, “If you said that we give [locum tenens] a medical assistant/scribe for you to respond to these things, that would be a huge selling point.” He continues to say, “It’s because nobody does that right now, and you go to these high-volume centers where the expectation [is you’re] going to have twenty encounters overnight.” Providing support staff for telemedicine locum tenens not only cuts down on the call duration but also increases the volume of patients that are able to be seen and aided.

Redefining Revenue Models

Moving beyond traditional fee-for-service, telehealth offers opportunities for improved throughput and outcomes. Dr. Hakimi shared insights from a study, suggesting that optimizing patient discharge times can substantially increase hospital admissions, indicating a need for revenue model innovation in telehealth.

Collaborative Approach for the Future

The integration of telehealth, particularly locum tenens, necessitates collective efforts from various healthcare stakeholders. Dr. Joseph Fritz, President of ASN and CEO of Dent Neurologic Institute, emphasized the transformative potential of telehealth in underserved areas:

[Telehealth is] an area that we’re looking at beyond the hospitals of the specialists in the rural areas where… they’ve gone a long time with no care at all.

A collaborative approach is essential for expanding access to specialized care and enhancing the quality and security of healthcare services. 

In summary, leveraging locum tenens telemedicine offers a promising avenue to expand and improve healthcare delivery. Addressing technological, operational and communication challenges will be crucial in realizing the full potential of this innovative care model.  

For more information on how Aya Healthcare can help your facility get started with a telehealth program, contact [email protected].  

To learn more about Aya’s telehealth services, download our one-sheet here!

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