Telehealth has been growing for many years and with it, have come new jobs and responsibilities. From the invention of the telephone to the internet to artificial intelligence and machine learning, advancing technology has been able to expand and extend the reach of various service industries, including medicine and healthcare.
These changes have helped physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers better monitor and help patients with diagnosis, treatment plans and long-term monitoring. As technology continues to advance, so too will telehealth.
The Origins of Telehealth
While many people think of modern-day smartphones when they hear the word telehealth, the practice has been around for over 100 years. One of the earliest examples we have of the telephone playing a part in medical services is an article dated from 1879. The written piece discusses how doctors can use the telephone to reduce office visits for patients, particularly when the conditions or symptoms were not severe.
Shortly after the radio was invented, people began speculating how it could be adapted by physicians to treat patients from a distance. There were even some articles written on the topic that predicted diagnostic tools would be invented to help make radio medicine a reality.
Over the decades, a number of organizations, including NASA, have helped to expand telehealth services. Diagnosing from a distance became particularly important during the Mercury space program. NASA ran several pilot tests that helped advance telemedicine technology. It was in the 1950s that video technology found its place in modern medicine thanks to researchers at the University of Nebraska.
However, physicians also noted the needs of patients with chronic illnesses. As 75 percent of health care expenses are due to chronic illness issues, the need to save time and money drove the advancement of telehealth services in the industry.
Old Jobs, New Office
As telehealth services expand, there has been a call for new job positions to help meet demand in addition to adapting many traditional healthcare jobs. While telehealth may seem simple enough; a doctor simply phones a patient to discuss their symptoms, there are some behind the scenes work that is needed to make this happen. For example, many of us take for granted our ability to make emergency or 911 calls or even phoning our doctor’s office, but these both count as telehealth services. Consider what medical care would be if we didn’t have immediate access to emergency help simply by calling a central switchboard.
The telehealth industry has seen the creation of several new positions as jobs shift from face-to-face interactions to partial or fully virtual services. From doctors, nurses and more, there is a vast amount of opportunity for those wanting to get into the telehealth profession. Nearly every medical professional is capable of offering telehealth services including psychiatrists, speech therapists, radiologists, etc.
Some jobs in the industry connect patients to telehealth services while other jobs help healthcare providers. These include radiologists who can review images sent via e-mail and send a diagnosis back to the doctor. They can also include specialists in various medical areas such as pediatrics. These professionals can help other healthcare providers in smaller areas in making a diagnosis or treatment plan.
New Telehealth Jobs
In the medical profession, there have been those that have adapted their services to telehealth technology. There are also other jobs that have been created due to the need in the telehealth industry. Telehealth jobs can include:
Telehealth assistant – similar to a physician’s assistant these individuals can help telehealth providers with administrative tasks.
Telehealth coordinators – these are those individuals responsible for helping medical organizations, including hospitals, adapt and offer telehealth services.
Telehealth nurse – one of the frontline positions in telehealth is the registered nurse. This is the individual that will talk with patients on the phone to determine the severity of the issue. They are the equivalent of a triage nurse that patients would initially interact with when they arrive at a hospital emergency room.
Registered nurse – nurses can use telehealth services to help care for patients in their own homes. Unlike nurses at a call center, these RNs will have a list of patients they are responsible for and use technology to monitor their condition.
Implementation consultant – similar to a telehealth coordinator, a consultant helps medical providers get started in telehealth. They help doctors, nurses and other staff understand the technology and best practices.
Care coordinator – these individuals are similar to physician assistants. Much like an RN, the care coordinator will have a list of patients that they monitor. Care coordinators contact these patients on a regular basis to see how they are managing their condition in their homes. They may also guide patients on healthy living options for their lives.
Sales executive – telehealth roles extend beyond the medical field and include sales professionals, marketing specialists, etc.
Telehealth technician – due to its reliance on technology, many telehealth companies need technical-minded employees to help them handle the maintenance of the hardware and software. These IT specialists are also required to fix any bugs or other issues that come up.
Along with these roles, many traditional jobs have also been adapted for telehealth opportunities including clinician, administrator, clerk and more.
The Future of Telehealth
Telehealth has a long history and a bright future. As technology has advanced over the past decades, so has the medical field. Telehealth has been changing how healthcare providers care for patients. From phone calls with patients to video conferences and virtual diagnosis, there are a variety of jobs that are being adapted to fill the needs of patients accessing telehealth services.
To learn more about how your organization can harness the power of technology to further your healthcare services, contact us today.