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With New York and New Jersey as primary care deserts, telemedicine becomes a savior


Doctors say many who turn to telehealth have no primary care physician

Finding a primary care doctor in the New York-New Jersey area is getting harder and harder.

Jason Tibbels, chief quality officer at Teladoc Health and a doctor himself, said the numbers tell the story.

“Ninety-seven percent of the counties in the state of New York are designated as health care shortage areas, short of primary care physicians, and in New Jersey that number is 71%, the sad news is it’s the same all over the country,” he said.

He said telemedicine is picking up a lot of the slack, and that many chronic conditions are diagnosed through virtual appointments, once someone feels comfortable in their relationship with a doctor.

Why the shortage?

“It’s everything from just not minting enough new physicians, we’ve seen for decades that less and less medical school graduates are going into primary care in favor of becoming specialized, population growth, parts of the provider community retiring,” he said.

“What we find in virtual primary care is in general people come to us with some need, some urgent thing, something top of mind. Once they establish that primary care relationship it gives us an opportunity to help identify other things that may not be top of mind,” said Tibbels.

He said a lot of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are diagnosed through telemedicine.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.