Published on December 21, 2020 | Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Lookforzebras
- K Health
- Babylon Health
- The best telemedicine companies for physicians will increasingly integrate AI
The best telemedicine companies for physicians are no longer offering a simple platform that allows you to video conference with a patient. Many telemedicine technologies are now tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) to assist you in gathering a history, finding a diagnosis, or making management decisions.
The use of built-in AI may be an important consideration, whether you’re:
- Looking for telemedicine jobs as a physician consultant,
- Seeking full-time nonclinical work in the healthcare technology space, or
- Considering starting your own telemedicine practice.
Why? An AI feature can dramatically influence the flow and efficiency of your patient encounters. Contrary the to the myth that AI will put us out of work as doctors, AI can be a valuable tool that allows physicians to focus on patient care rather than busywork or documentation.
Here are 8 of the best telemedicine companies for physicians that are utilizing AI to improve both the patient and provider experience.
The startup K Health boasts itself as the first medical app that uses AI to deliver primary care better, fast, and cheaper. Its use of AI begins with a symptom checker that accounts for patient demographics and medical history. If needed, patients are then transferred to a doctor for a consultation and treatment recommendations or orders.
K Health has gotten a lot of traction since forming in 2016, with many notable investors and a partnership with Anthem health insurance.
Make K Health your new side gig
This is gearing up to be one of the best telemedicine companies for physicians because – in addition to their strong technology – they hire physicians and other clinicians for remote, flexible, part-time telemed positions. I’ve also seen them advertising for corporate positions requiring an MD from time to time.
One of the biggest networks of physicians online is HealthTap. While physicians interact with one another on the HealthTap site, it’s a far cry from a social media platform. It’s a platform incorporating telemedicine, health Q&A, physician-developed care plans, and – more recently – an AI technology.
HealthTap launched its Doctor A.I. in 2017 after six years of development. Since then, it has incorporated the knowledge of its large network of engaged doctors by using them to help “train” the tool to appropriately triage patients and make recommendations.
In addition to being trained in clinical decision-making, Dr. A.I. is trained in the art of “digital empathy.” Even though questions to patients are generated by a machine, they are conversational and use a compassionate bedside manner (to the extent possible on an app).
Earn extra income with HealthTap
Doctors can easily apply for HealthTap’s doctor network. Once approved, they can start using the platform and indicate availability to see patients when consults come through. I’ve written previously about my experience with HealthTap, how much I earned, and my perceived pros and cons of the platform.
American Well, now known as Amwell, is one of the leaders of telemedicine. Earlier this year, they announced a new partnership with Google that they hope will enable it to tap into AI and machine learning technologies to create a better healthcare experience
Amwell has also partnered with Cleveland Clinic, Cerner, Epic, Philips, and other big names in healthcare to expand their technology to more patients and physicians.
Getting involved with amwell as a medical provider
There are a couple ways that you can benefit from Amwell as a physician or other medical provider. One is to work directly for their affiliated, physician-owned medical practice that exclusively sees patients through Amwell’s telehealth platform. There are options when it comes to scheduling, including scheduled shifts and commitment-free alternatives.
Those with existing practices can use Amwell’s subscription services to offer virtual care to their current patients.
In contrast to HealthTap and Amwell, who were first telemedicine companies before AI companies, Curai has AI at its core. This platform uses machine learning and AI-based tools to help medical professionals diagnose their patients. The tools are coupled with a home-grown EHR and chat-based patient encounter service that allows for both synchronous and asynchronous communication.
One thing that sets Curai’s technology apart from other “symptom checkers” is that AI remains involved throughout the patient’s disease course and care, rather than just suggesting a diagnosis. It provides real-time recommendations to patients and enables efficient ongoing communication.
Grow with Curai
As I write this, Curai is currently advertising for physicians to join their team. They are specifically seeking those with internal medicine, family medicine, or emergency medicine certification and 5 or more years of clinical practice experience.
The health technology company Babylon claimed in 2014 that their AI system outperformed the average human physician in a study that involved both triaging and diagnosing. While their methodology is up for debate and their results can’t necessarily be extrapolated to telemedicine practice as a whole, Babylon is setting an example of transparency and research-backed technology in the AI-based telemedicine space.
Babylon’s services include telemedicine visits with doctors, but are more focused on interactive symptom-checking, health monitoring capabilities, and other user-focused features.
Become a Babylon doctor
Babylon is a European company, but does have a US division and is currently hiring psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners for part-time clinical telemedicine positions. I anticipate this will expand to other specialties as the company grows.
Sophie is the name of the new AI-powered chatbot developed by MDLIVE. MDLIVE itself has been around since 2009 as a telemedicine provider. Sophie was introduced a few years ago in an effort to increase patient engagement and improve the overall virtual care experience. At this point, actual clinical decision-making is still all done by humans, but the long-term goal is to integrate AI into this, as well.
Virtual medical practice with MDLIVE
MDLIVE is hiring primary care physicians, a few types of specialists, therapists, and social workers to conduct virtual patient encounters. They offer malpractice insurance and a lot of scheduling flexibility. They are a great option for physicians wanting to get into telemedicine but who don’t have existing practices or patient panels.
The target customers for 98point6 are employers, health systems, and health plans. They offer on-demand primary care via app-based messaging to the employees and patients of these organizations. Their current use of AI is focused on streamlining the user experience but, as with MDLIVE, I expect this will expand to include aspects of clinical decision-making as the company grows.
98point6 is growing quickly
I have recently seen 98point6 recruiting physicians for both full-time and part-time remote telemedicine positions. As a growing company, they also are intermittently in need of nonclinical physicians for corporate positions such as directors and clinical advisors.
This AI-based telehealth platform stands out from the others listed here in that it focuses on cardiology and uses digitally-enabled cardiology diagnostic tools. Eko is both a medical device company and a telemedicine company. Its products include digital stethoscopes and a handheld EKG. The focus of their AI technology is in detecting and interpreting heart murmurs, arrhythmias, and valvular heart disease.
At this time, Eko is the only telemedicine platform specifically designed to use cardiac diagnostic tools as part of virtual patient encounters.
Eko’s solutions for cardiologists
The physicians who are likely to benefit from Eko’s solutions at this time are limited to cardiologists with established practices. That said, if you fit into this category, their technology is worth taking a closer look at.
The best telemedicine companies for physicians will increasingly integrate AI
Telemedicine and AI are natural partners due to the ability to integrate AI into to the technology through which the patient encounter is completed.
Be on the lookout for new players entering the space. For example, Book Z Doctor is a brand new, physician-led telemedicine platform powered by AI. It has somewhat of a different business model than most of the other platforms mentioned in this article. The platform itself is free to use for both patients and doctors, with doctors being able to charge fees to patients for their consultations and Book Z Doctor taking a percentage.
Some readers may understandably be wary of AI technologies playing a role in clinical decision-making. A review of the evidence on consumer-facing digital tools for diagnosis made this conclusion:
Overall, the current evidence base on direct-to-consumer, interactive diagnostic apps is sparse in scope, uneven in the information provided and inconclusive with respect to safety and effectiveness, with no studies of clinical risks and benefits involving real-world consumer use.
If this gives you pause, I urge you to not dismiss AI as a tool to assist in your telemedicine or brick-and-mortar practice. This type of technology can also be used to streamline appointment scheduling, improve patient flow, and enhance other aspects of running a traditional or virtual practice aside from actual clinical decision-making.
For example, Mend Predictive IQ is an AI machine learning algorithm that predicts no-shows and cancellations, allowing practice owners to “turn no-shows into cash flows.”
Regardless of where you stand in your confidence in health AI tools, it’s worth keeping eye out for advances in this field and new platforms (or improvements to existing ones) that may be able to improve your ability to practice medicine in the most helpful, cost-effective, and flexible way that you can.
The incorporation of AI into telemedicine technologies is likely to become the standard, rather than a distinguishing feature.