New Lifestyle Report Finds Residents Ready to Use Telehealth

Neil Chesanow


July 28, 2015

In This Article

Do Residents Pay Enough Attention to Their Own Health?

Only about one third of residents told us that work-life balance was a challenge. Yet only 13% reported that personal health and wellness received adequate attention on a regular basis. Over one third (36%) said they did not spend sufficient time on their personal health and wellness, and over half (51%) indicated that sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't.

This habit of self-neglect may come back to haunt them later as practicing physicians.

In Medscape's 2015 Physician Lifestyle Report, burnout was a serious problem in all 26 specialties surveyed, with too many bureaucratic tasks and too many hours spent at work rated first and second as the major causes of burnout. Moreover, female practicing physicians were more burned out than their male colleagues (51% vs 43%).

Our 2015 Residents Report echoed these findings. When resident responses to whether they spent sufficient time on health and wellness were broken out by gender, in each case, female residents paid less attention than their male counterparts: 33% of men vs 42% of women didn't spend sufficient time on health and wellness; 53% of men vs 47% of women sometimes did; and 15% of men vs 11% of women always did.

Would You See Patients Remotely via Telehealth?

Surveys show that many patients like the convenience of being able to consult with a doctor remotely via email, telephone, or videoconferencing without having to leave the house.[2,3,4,5,6] However, many practicing physicians—and physician organizations—have been slow to embrace virtual patient visits.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, for one, recently expressed concern "related to the increased use of telemedicine by virtual providers who provide healthcare services to patients via smart phone, laptop or video-consultations without a previous physician-patient relationship, previous medical history, or hands-on physical examination."[7]

If a child falls ill on Christmas Eve and doesn't have pediatrician, what then? The average emergency department visit costs nearly $1500.[8] The average urgent care visit costs over $150.[8] The typical virtual visit costs less than $50.[8]

How do today's residents, for whom the use of technology in medicine is second nature—as is texting and video chat in their personal lives—feel about seeing patients virtually via a medium of telehealth? The answer was decisive: The majority reported that they had no problem with it.

Fully 70% of the residents who participated in our 2015 survey said they would have no compunctions about videoconferencing with a patient; 63% would consult with a patient over the phone; and 56% would confer with a patient via email. When we compile Medscape's 2016 Residents Salary & Debt Report next year, we shall see whether even more residents agree.


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