Teladoc teams up with Jefferson Health on telehealth fellowship

Doctors look at scan
Jefferson Health is formalizing a telehealth fellowship with backing from Teladoc. (Getty/DragonImages)

A northeast medical school has launched a telehealth academic fellowship that includes a specialized curriculum for physicians interested in a telehealth career.

Jefferson Health, which includes Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University, announced a partnership with Teladoc on Monday to formalize a fellowship program that launched this semester at Thomas Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College.

The only other school that offers a telehealth fellowship is George Washington University, according to the American College of Telemedicine.

“We recognized the benefits of telehealth and worked to establish a multidisciplinary program that addresses several modalities for patients to receive care when and where they want it,” Judd Hollander, M.D., senior vice president of healthcare delivery innovation at Thomas Jefferson University, said in a statement. “The next step is to educate the leaders of tomorrow to master telehealth so that we can keep providing the care that patients need, when and how they need it.”

A version of the fellowship that focuses on the clinical aspects of telehealth has been available at Thomas Jefferson University for several years. Daniel Halpren-Ruder, M.D., an emergency physician at the system and a member of the school's 2016 fellowship class, chose to enter the program 36 years after completing his medical training to ensure he could continue practicing into his 70s.

In a NEJM Catalyst op-ed, he wrote that the training gave him "a new purpose" in his career. 

RELATED: Does healthcare need a virtual medicine specialty? Experts aren’t so sure

The new fellowship focuses on the administrative side of virtual care and is backed by funding from Teladoc Health, which will have a hand in designing the program. The program is divided into two distinct pathways, including one held onsite at Jefferson Health. The second pathway will be spearheaded by Teladoc, with company experts focusing on “key leadership aspects" of telehealth policy, oversight and driving consumer behavior.

It’s the second health IT-focused partnership Thomas Jefferson has launched this year. Over the summer, the school unveiled a new academic chair for population health, with a $2 million grant from Navvis that funds academic research focused on social determinants and patient engagement.

There has been some discussion in the industry about making virtual medicine a medical specialty. Last year, physicians with NewYork-Presbyterian suggested a formal specialty is necessary with telehealth becoming a bigger part of patient care.

But others, including the American Telemedicine Association, argue that telehealth should be a part of a physician’s medical training and have pushed for more comprehensive training for all physicians.