Are virtual visits to primary care to avoid so many real visits to the doctor?

Are virtual visits to primary care to avoid so many real visits to the doctor?

According to Kaiser Permanente research published in JAMA Network Open , patients who have scheduled appointments to see their primary care physicians by video or by phone, that is, by telecare, did not seek substantially more follow-up care overall than those who had traditional visits in person.

The results suggest that virtual visits can often address a patient’s concern in a similar way to traditional in-person healthcare.

Less than 2%

The analysis examined the 2.2 million video, phone and in-person primary care visits scheduled online by Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California between 2016 and mid-2018.

This study answers the previously open question about whether phone and video visits are less efficient because most patients might have to go to the clinic anyway to solve their clinical problem .

Specifically, the study found that there is a small margin of additional patients returning for an in-person visit after telemedicine, but it is surprisingly small: less than 2% . That may end some of the concerns about the overall efficiency of telemedicine for primary care.

The researchers looked at what happened to the patients in the week after their primary care visits and found little difference in follow-up care. Approximately a quarter (25.4%) of video visits were followed up within 7 days, as were 26% of telephone visits and 24.5% of clinic visits; the differences between these follow-up rates between the types of visits were modest. There were no significant differences in emergency department visits and hospitalizations .

The findings support virtual visits as an option for patients in a comprehensive care delivery model without increasing emergency department and hospital utilization. Another thing would be to find out if telemedicine encourages people to go more or less to the doctor, setting in motion the so-called Jevons paradox , that is, we use a resource more the easier it is to have it, as you can see in the following video :