A recently released survey of more than 1,700 health care providers (35% physicians, 52% nurses, and 12% therapists) found that 63% of the clinician responses confirmed that they would welcome a full-time telehealth role if the opportunity presented itself.

Conducted by SteadyMD, a B2B telehealth infrastructure provider, the survey examined categorized responses according to both clinician type and years of practice. Doctors with 15 or more years of experience expressed the highest interest in telehealth. Therapists with more than 15 years of experience followed closely behind, with 86% viewing telehealth as an opportunity to work more night shifts and supplement their income from their day jobs.

“We are always communicating with our clinician network and gathering feedback from our SteadyMD Care Team on what motivates and interests them. This analysis, which was based on our proprietary data, has insightful trends on how doctors, nurses, and therapists view telehealth opportunities,” said Chardonnay Vance, MD, SteadyMD’s Medical Director of Clinical Programs.

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While the pandemic triggered and popularized work-from-home opportunities across industries, few professional roles were as directly and physically impacted by COVID-19 as health care providers. Now, many clinicians want to leverage telehealth to find more nighttime and weekend work, with 64% indicating interest in working night shifts and 85% expressing an openness to practicing on the weekends.

Physicians who had worked extensively in the traditional system responded that they were interested in telehealth as a better way to practice medicine. Nurse practitioners reported they were interested in full-time careers as telehealth clinicians and are open to a variety of shifts that fit within their ideal work schedule.

“I find it interesting that the doctors who are interested in telemedicine tend to be in practice longer and the doctors who are less interested have been in practice for a shorter amount of time,” Dr Vance said. “The opposite was true for nurse practitioners. I think this highlights the fact that even though doctors and nurse practitioners often are doing the same work, they have very different training, different cultures, and approach systems in different ways.”

Evolving Technology

The growing acceptance of telehealth is occurring amid technological developments that enable reliable remote monitoring of patients’ vital signs. Researchers have developed wearable remote automated monitoring (RAM) technologies that enable continuous capture of physiologic data from biosensors. These types of systems have the potential to transform postoperative care.

For example, in a recent validation study, investigators tested a continuous vital signs monitoring device for measuring blood pressure among postsurgical intensive care patients. The device took 3 noninvasive continuous blood pressure measurements, each taking 30 seconds, while patients were in the static (sitting in bed) and supine positions. Investigators compared the accuracy of the device with measurements taken via invasive arterial catheter. The device met International Standards Organization accuracy standards and was well-received by patients.

“These systems that can enable data integration, synthesis, and real-time alerts to clinicians have the potential to transform hospital-to-home care in multiple contexts by reducing the need for post-discharge acute hospital care and reducing patient and system burden,” said study investigator Michael McGillion, PhD, RN, a research scientist and visiting professor at the School of Nursing at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Major developments in this field of medicine over the last decade include the evolution of RAM systems, the development of ultra-lightweight, unobtrusive sensors, and the incorporation of more powerful microprocessors. Future studies will examine the accuracy of continuous noninvasive remote automated blood pressure monitoring for both cardiac and non-cardiac surgery patients. 

“With continued work to refine automation of RAM, we can achieve patient-centric early warning systems for impending patient deterioration and intervene earlier,” Dr McGillion said. “Maintaining high quality patient care is about optimizing these systems to ease workflows, increase efficiency, thereby allowing for quality clinician-patient interactions when support is needed,” Dr McGillion said.