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What Are a Telehealth Physician’s Biggest Virtual-Working Challenges?

Overcoming Virtual Pain to Make Real Life Gain

As a telehealth physician, you’ll have the opportunity to provide exceptional care to patients who otherwise may not be able to benefit from your experience and knowledge. For example:

  • Telehealth visits offer greater personal protection to patients and physicians, especially in the current environment. Virtual visits are the ultimate in social distancing.
  • Those in senior living communities gain better access to healthcare when offered telehealth appointments.
  • Those with serious conditions and who are living in rural locations can benefit from consultations they might otherwise have no access to.

However, working virtually has some unique challenges that you must overcome to be successful in a career as a telehealth physician. Here we examine what a study published in 2018 (Physicians’ experiences, attitudes and challenges in a Pediatric Telemedicine Service) found these to be.

Remote Diagnosis

This was cited as the most common challenge when consulting virtually. Especially when consulting over the phone with no visual clues available, physicians are concerned that they will fail to fully diagnose a patient’s illness.

To help mitigate this challenge, physicians should ensure that they conduct virtual visits by video wherever possible, and that the internet connection ensures good visuals. This is especially important when the patient is less able to describe their condition verbally – such as children or those with cognitive impairment.

Unfamiliar Patients

As a telehealth physician, it is unlikely that you will build relationships with patients as you might working in an office with in-person appointments. Often, it is this relationship and familiarity that helps to provide a diagnosis.

Ways to overcome this include listening to tone of voice, watching body language, and familiarizing yourself with the patient’s notes before starting the consultation.

Working on Your Own

When working from home, you don’t benefit from having other physicians or healthcare professionals at hand to share thoughts with. This can lead to hesitancy to diagnose for fear of misdiagnosing.

Healthcare providers have protocols and support systems in place for such consultations. These allow you to ask senior physicians for their opinions and share experiences and knowledge.


You may be dealing with acute cases and emergency visits. Therefore, it is possible that you will deal with more than a fair share of urgent cases. This can mean a high and fluctuating workload, and many of your patients may not be able to articulate their conditions well. You will still be expected to make a rapid diagnosis.

Good time management skills are essential, and so, too, is the confidence to either diagnose or refer. Many physicians in such cases would refer the patient for an in-person examination.

Issues with Technology

Whether it is getting used to a provider’s technology, issued caused by poor internet connections, or the potential for technology to malfunction, technology is high on the list of telehealth physicians’ concerns.

When technology lets you down, it may be necessary to take a little longer than planned to conduct a consultation. You may also need to talk a patient through using video technology on their side, so a good knowledge of the video tech you are using is important.

Is It Good Healthcare?

Some physicians feel a moral dilemma over whether they are providing good healthcare or if they have become a function of good service. Others report that the referrals to them should not have been made.

It can be hard to marry the twin goals of providing a good service and ensuring proper healthcare is given. Thus, it is essential that you work for providers whose working practices align with your own moral compass.

Summing Up

Working as a physician in telehealth can be rewarding. The life-changing benefits of telehealth jobs include:

However, to take advantage of such benefits, you’ll need to ensure that you:

  • Work smart, not hard
  • Become adept with technology
  • Understand patients from their notes
  • Develop your communication skills
  • Manage your time effectively

If you can do this, then a fulfilling career in telehealth is waiting for you – and we’d love to hear from you.

To learn more about the incredible opportunities to transition your career as a telehealth physician, contact Telehealthgigs today.