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Could Telemedicine Help Physician Work-Life Balance?

Posted by Glen McCracken, MD

As physicians, we are no strangers to burnout, and our work-life balance is often non-existent. Between being overloaded with patients and paperwork and trying to balance responsibilities of our homes and practices, it’s no wonder we’re so exhausted and distracted.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I’ve done a number of presentations on the subject and understand what you’re going through. Among ER physicians, burnout is incredibly high. I always stress to my fellow physicians the importance of work-life balance to maintain your practice—and sanity.

There is one solution I have to offer you, and a new survey even supports what I’ve always believed: Telemedicine can be a valuable tool to improve our work-life balance as physicians.

Telemedicine’s Work-Life Benefits by the Numbers

I recently came across a survey of more than 2,000 primary care physicians which focused on doctors’ perceptions of telemedicine. 57% of those physicians said they were interested in telemedicine, compared to only 12% who weren’t interested and 31% who still weren’t sure. As telemedicine continues to grow, I know those numbers will quickly shift even further in favor of telemedicine.

But the main thing that stood out about the survey was the number one reason that the surveyed physicians said they were interested in telemedicine. Better work-life balance.

Sustaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance With Telemedicine

Telemedicine can be a great way to reconfigure and maintain your work-life balance. Here are just a few benefits I’ve seen from telemedicine.

Inject flexibility into your schedule.

One of the beauties of telemedicine appointments is that they can be held anytime, anywhere. That means that if you tend to work best at a certain time of day, whether or not that is during typical office hours, you could still schedule your telemedicine appointments at that particular time of day.

The same goes for working around the responsibilities of your home life. You could literally work from home, and in between cases get things done at home that always seem impossible to get to. You could take more time off and work from abroad. Imagine spending a month on the beach and still be able to occasionally see patients. You could even take Friday to work from home every week. The possibilities are endless.


Reduce work travel time—and stress.


This is especially true for physicians based in rural areas, but we all know how much time it takes to commute to the office, hospital, or directly to our patients. Employing telemedicine means not having to waste as much time during the day in the car or public transit trying to get from one place to the next. Instead we can see patients from far and wide while enjoying the comfort of our offices, whether at home or at work. This also means we get to avoid the stress that comes with regular work travel, from traffic to car trouble. Imagine all the things you could be doing with that saved travel time.


Generate more income—without working more hours.

Telemedicine can help you increase your income without having to spend more time seeing patients and being away from your home and family. By reducing the steps you and patients have to go through to see each other for an appointment, you can fit more patients into a shorter block of time. In the time you carve out for your appointments each day, you might normally see 15 patients. With the better patient flow of telemedicine, you could potentially increase that to 20 or 25 patients. Who wouldn’t love being able to go home at the same time every day with extra money to take the family on a much-needed vacation?

While getting to a better work-life balance is a challenge for doctors, telemedicine is one way physicians are experimenting with flexible work schedules and trying to fight against burnout. Let telemedicine restore your work-life balance—and sanity—so you can take better care of your practice, your family, and most importantly, yourself.


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