Like people in general, doctors aren’t all the same. Some doctors have a great bedside manner and make patients feel like they are a family member. Some physicians perform complicated procedures that require a combination of clinical and technical acumen. Although patients may never see the radiologist who reads their CT scan, or the pathologist who evaluates their biopsy, communication is happening behind the scenes among consulting physicians. As medical students, we self select into these different fields of medicine according to our preferences and interests. We then spend years training to become proficient in our chosen fields. As an emergency medicine physician, I have to be able to multi-task and deal at a moment’s notice with critically ill patients. Chaos, uncertainty and constant interruption are characteristic of the emergency department. Not many EM physicians would feel comfortable in the quiet focus of a radiology suite scrutinizing images, and dare I say few radiologists would thrive in the setting I work in every shift.
Telemedicine has its own need for personality traits that can be successfully applied to patient care. It is not enough to just be a good clinician, you must also be a good communicator when it comes to telemedicine. In addition to the physician’s training and communication style, the telemedicine environment can help or hinder the patient doctor interaction. The typical telemedicine visit with the large national telemedicine companies is staffed by doctors compensated on a “per call” basis. Each patient interaction is reimbursed at a standard low rate and encounters last approximately 15 minutes. In virtually all cases, this one interaction is the only time the provider will be in contact with the patient. Clinicians don’t have a chance to follow up with the patient. This economic model incentivizes increasing the number of encounters rather than quality of care or patient experience, and may not lead to the high quality of care that patients want and expect from their providers in a continuity setting. In an article published in February 2017 in the journal BMC Medical Education (17:32), the authors found that “First impressions matter and continuity of care is important to patients.” This study found that “Despite the clear benefits of patient-centered care, time pressure and lack of training in communication skills are structural challenges facing providers.” This is especially true in the virtual setting.
CirrusMD incentivizes doctors to provide great care, not quick care. We are the only service providing open ended, continuous care by board certified physicians that are local to the patient. The service is provided free to the patient and CirrusMD physicians are paid an hourly rate which prioritizes value over throughput. Due to the asynchronous nature of our service, doctors can care for multiple patients simultaneously and can do so over hours or even days as needed. This sets CirrusMD apart from other telemedicine providers, and we believe this drives our high patient satisfaction scores, high utilization rates and greater than 20 percent reutilization seen on our platform. CirrusMD is setting the bar higher for telemedicine. Our providers are leaders in their communities who have seen the benefit of CirrusMD in providing the best care right when the patient wants it, wherever they are.