8 Ways to Earn Extra Income From Medical Activities

Leigh Page


March 22, 2016

In This Article

8. Practice Telehealth From Home

Sitting in your own home office, you can provide telehealth consults to distant patients. This work, done by phone or over the Internet, is attractive to physicians who are looking for part-time work, because you can arrange to take the calls in your off hours.

Telehealth doctors, who advise patients whom they will never meet in person, deal with a variety of simple complaints. Because procedures aren't involved, the work is a good fit for primary care physicians. They can even write short-term prescriptions. If the telehealth physician decides that the complaint can't be handled over the phone, the patient is directed to a local doctor or emergency department.

Video visits average about $30 per visit. Each encounter takes 8-12 minutes, but the physician also needs to review the patient's medical history, write a brief summary of the encounter, and provide instructions to the patient.

That rate could be worthwhile if you're used to seeing a lot of patients quickly, says Philippa Kennealy, MD, a practice consultant in Los Angeles. Some states, such as Texas, maintain that patients must first have a face-to-face encounter with a physician before they can use video visits. But resistance has been eroding. Telehealth consults are legal in at least 21 states, including California, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.[23]

Many patients pay out of pocket for telehealth consults. Medicare won't cover this kind of service, but some major private insurers, such as United Healthcare, Aetna, and Cigna, have begun to cover the charges. At least a dozen states have passed laws requiring private insurers to pay for telehealth.

Caring for a patient whom you can't see or touch might seem risky, but so far the work has run into little malpractice activity. To reduce risks, physicians starting telehealth consults have to undergo training in telephone best practices and use protocols, such as those devised by David A. Thompson, MD, author of the book Adult Telephone Protocols (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012).

In addition to Ringadoc, you can check out American Well, Teladoc, and iSelectMD. Another company, NowClinic, hires physicians to provide telehealth consults for United Healthcare members in 22 states. And Soliant Health, an online recruiting organization, has been looking for doctors to make telehealth consults for hospitals. Another good source to find telemedicine companies is the American Telemedicine Association.

Pros: You can work from home and set your own hours. It's a growing field, and there are many outlets to choose from.

Cons: Payments are somewhat low, and you may be barred from doing this work in your state.


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