The In-Person Infectious Diseases Care Challenge
Staffing can be difficult at community hospitals where caseloads can vary greatly – when infectious diseases (ID) are surging, an onsite ID physician can quickly become overwhelmed and burnt out, but when caseloads are low, ID physicians are either under-utilized, or assigned to duties outside of their scope. With a specialty like infectious diseases, neither of these scenarios provide for an ideal working environment, which can lead to costly attrition. And, with the pipeline of new infectious diseases doctors withering, it’s becoming more difficult to attract and recruit new physicians entering the field.
“Retaining any specialty physician in our geographic area is difficult but especially when you are looking for a new graduate who is looking [for an infectious diseases role],” said Dr. Andrew Core, M.D., MBA, former Systems Medical Director, Sound Physicians (Valley Health), in a recent webinar hosted by Infectious Disease Connect. “Most of the time, they are not coming to a rural area … it is unlikely we are going to have someone moving to one of our critical access centers.”
Is Tele-ID the Solution for In-Person ID Challenges?
A poster presented at IDWeek 2022 revealed that the introduction of a tele-ID service with daily availability had a profound impact on the utilization of ID care at a community hospital compared to periodic in-person ID care.
The study concluded that:
Despite higher Charleston Comorbidity Index (CCI) scores in tele-ID patients, length of stay (LOS) was shorter. While the average in-person ID service LOS was 9.08, tele-ID service LOS averaged 7.5.
In addition, discharge on intravenous (IV) antibiotics was less frequent when compared to in-person service, with 51% of in-person service patients being discharged on IV antibiotics and 34% of tele-ID patients being discharged on IV antibiotics
Telemedicine can Provide 24/7/365 Care at a Fraction of the Cost
According to the 2022 Medscape Physician Compensation Report, the average salary of a full-time onsite ID physician is $260,000 annually. While this compensation is low when compared to other specialties, it can still be outside of the budget for many hospitals seeking to improve their bottom line. In a smaller community hospital, additional call and vacation coverage may be required. When adding this along with benefit cost of the physician, the ID program can easily be pushing over $400k.
Infectious Disease Connect’s telemedicine services can provide 24/7/365 ID care at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee, all while maintaining the same – or better – quality of care for your patients.
“Since we started using ID Connect’s telemedicine consultation service, we’ve had no complaints from patients who have been comfortable with the experience,” said Elizabeth Piccione, M.D., President, UPMC Jameson and UPMC Horizon. “What’s more important to patients is who the information about their care comes from, not how they receive that information.”
With our simple implementation process, your hospital can begin tele-ID in as little as a few weeks – less time than it would take to hire a full-time onsite ID doctor, meaning your patients’ quality of care doesn’t have to suffer, and neither does your bottom line.
Contact email@example.com to learn more and start a conversation about your hospital or healthcare system’s ID needs and goals for the future.