Virtual Care’s Ability to Expand Provider Bandwidth

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You find a suspicious new mole on your arm. In a panic, you call your local dermatology clinic in downtown Philadelphia. You are floored to learn that the next available opening on the physician’s schedule is a staggering 78 days away. Problems with long wait times to access physician care certainly aren’t limited to the City of Brotherly Love or to dermatology: the average wait time to visit a new primary care provider in US metro areas is 21.7 days and for an OB/Gyn, it is 23.7 days. When discussing reasons for this problem, we often point to an imbalance of supply and demand – that there are simply too few healthcare providers to care for all the patients who want to see them. However, studies indicate that the real problem may not be in the supply itself, but rather in how the supply is used. Harvard Business Review report published earlier this year explains that the real reasons for an apparent shortage in healthcare providers are actually issues with an inefficient use of labor, uneven distribution of providers, and other factors related to the delivery of care – not the number of people providing it. Fortunately, virtual care has several unique features that empower provider organizations to optimize their workforces.

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