Interview with Dr. Tom Davis
This week on the PNC Podcast Dr. Tom Davis is presenting his take on the best new alternative to physician employment: telemedicine.
I wanted to learn more about this new approach to providing care. So I invited him back for a conversation on telemedicine. And Tom doesn't disappoint. He shares his wealth of experience, advice, and a perspective on telemedicine that is different than most others!
Tom started out his career in medicine as a board-certified family physician. He worked with a group of family doctors at a practice in Missouri. The group developed a network to provide Medicare Advantage services. After 25 successful years, the group decided to sell the network to a competing healthcare system.
Tom cashed out, but remained working under a personal service agreement. After the term of his PSA ended, however, he was eager to get out and start a new chapter in his career.
The only problem was, he had no idea what that next chapter would be. “It was this pit in my stomach and I had no idea what I was going to do.” After receiving his final paycheck, the realization set in that he had no other revenue stream coming in.
“It was this pit in my stomach and I had no idea what I was going to do.”Dr. Tom Davis
After a month of “recovering” from the burdens of employment, Tom stumbled upon a telemedicine opportunity. And he quickly realized the potential for telemedicine to provide the flexibility he desired. So, he put all of his efforts into establishing a working telemedicine practice.
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He Wrote the Book on It
After gaining extensive experience caring for patients with telemedicine, Tom realized that patients need to understand its limitations and pitfalls. So he wrote a book directed at them, which he published in 2018, called Telemedicine Confidential.
Guiding Physicians to the Best New Alternative to Physician Employment
In his telemedicine practice, he found that it enabled him to earn more and work less. It also provides the flexibility to take encounters from beaches and other exotic locations. That flexibility, however, depends on building a solid foundation of sound business practices and appropriate planning.
After establishing his own such practice, Tom also wanted to share what he had discovered with his peers and colleagues. He recognized the value that telemedicine can offer clinicians who were desperately seeking a career with more freedom.
While he was excited to share the benefits of telemedicine, Tom also recognized that there are a number of pitfalls in getting a telemedicine practice set up. And wanted to get the word out to his colleagues.
So Tom developed an online resource for physicians that walks them through the process of developing a telemedicine practice the right way. It's called the Institute for Telemedicine Mastery. It's a place for you to begin an accelerated learning process based on Tom's testing and identifying the best approach to this new way of practicing.
Tom shared important considerations about practicing telemedicine, depending on your specialty and training.
- Find and contract with several reputable, stable telemedicine companies providing cross-coverage services.
- Sign up as an independent contractor, through an LLC.
- Go for the most favorable contracts and leave any company that does not pay promptly.
- Learn to practice efficiently and safely, delivering quality care remotely, while minimizing malpractice liability.
- Expand your practice and offer services to underserved rural hospitals that lack in-house coverage for your expertise (e.g., infectious disease).
- Market across large geographic regions to ensure an adequate level of patient volume, if necessary.
Procedure-heavy Specialists and Surgeons
- Reduce the costs for care involving bundled payments by using telemedicine for low risk follow-up visits.
- For surgeons, telemedicine becomes more about lowering costs than providing new revenue sources.
- They provide the same type of services as “Primes” but generally need a collaborating physician (another source of revenue for you).
- They will need to push back on telemedicine companies demanding too much of they're time.
Treat Yourself like a Business
Tom stresses the importance of approaching telemedicine from an intentional business standpoint. For him, it can't just be a thing that you decide to try on a whim. You'll fail if you begin patient interactions before you've properly prepared yourself.
“If you just jump in, you are never going to successfully live the life I just described.”Dr. Tom Davis
In the interview, Tom outlines three essential steps that aspiring telemedicine physicians should take. These will help to protect them from liability and ensure that they can maximize their earning potential.
- Get an attorney to guide you through the process.
- Establish an LLC to protect your personal assets.
- Get an accountant to limit your admin time and take advantage of tax benefits.
On top of those steps, however, it is also important to recognize that you are entering a new mode of care delivery. It's easy for seasoned clinicians to assume that they can transfer their skills and knowledge to telemedicine. But delivering quality care remotely is a new skill.
Telemedicine can be a hugely rewarding way to supplement your existing clinical work or start a new career. It offers unparalleled flexibility, excellent earning potential, and significantly less stress than in-person clinical medicine.
With that being said, telemedicine comes with its own unique challenges. And it's easy to make an ill-prepared attempt and become disheartened because of poor results. However, by addressing skill gaps, and taking the time to set yourself up for success, it can be a great way to revitalize your career.
Links for today's episode:
- Institute for Telemedicine Mastery
- Dr. Alfred Atanda's Interview
- Dr. Chris Leonard's Interview
Thanks to our sponsor…
Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at vitalpe.net/physicianmba.
I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.
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The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business.
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