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The national physician shortage is keeping healthcare professionals on edge – it has been predicted that by 2025 the US will be 52,000 physicians short of what we need. With the new Affordable Care Act and Patient Protection, this will give 30 million people their first chance to have health insurance – thus increasing the need for more doctors.

While it is crucial for the country to find a long-term solution to this shortage, an effective relief from the shortage lies with telemedicine. This will enable clinics and hospitals to maximize the use and time of the doctors we have now.

Primarily telemedicine will allow physicians to be utilized for more hours during the day when they are in the office. Often a patient will call and cancel last minute freeing up time for the doctor. This gap in appointments and “down time” could easily be filled with available patients using video, making the doctors time more valuable and also effectively treating more patients in one day.

Many rural hospitals have a hard time keeping enough “hands on desk” as this shortage has been more drastic in these communities than urban locations. Having specialists in these areas poses even a greater challenge. By connecting these rural facilities with telemedicine resources to large medical centers, patients will be able to see whatever doctor they need while staying in their own community. This would be helpful for those with mobility problems or those who work and are not able to take time off to make the drive to a larger town to see a specialist.

Unfortunately the physician shortage isn’t just in the United States. Countries all over are spread too thin with their doctors. Telemedicine solutions can help create a larger pool to draw from. Many specialists are able to meet with other specialists and researchers face to face with this technology. It allows information to be exchanged at a much faster rate which is beneficial for everyone.

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