- A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal Monday discovered "significant variation" in adherence to medical guidelines for urgent care provided by telemedicine companies.
- Almost 24% of diagnoses in the 599 telemedicine cases analyzed were missed during telehealth visits, and some telemedicine providers gave a correct diagnosis less than 66% of the time.
- A March survey from IoT solutions provider Aeris showed that 84% of healthcare professionals believe that telemedicine provides similar outcomes as in-person care.
The study involved eight commercial virtual visit websites with the highest web traffic - Ameridoc, Amwell, Consult a Doctor, Doctor on Demand, MD Aligne, MDLIVE, MeMD, and NowClinic - and included 599 visits between May 2013 and July 2014.
Some of the main outcomes and measurements were: completeness of histories and physical exams, correct diagnosis, and adherence to guidelines of key management decisions.
Histories and physical exams were completed in 417 visits (70%), diagnoses were correct in 458 visits (76.5%) and wrong in 89 visits (15%). Key management decisions were adherent to guidelines in 325 visits (59%).
Variation across websites was significantly greater for some conditions like viral pharyngitis than others such as low back pain. There was no variation in guideline adherence by mode of communication (video conference vs. telephone vs. webchat).
The study had limitations and it remains uncertain whether virtual visits are superior or inferior to in-person visits, the authors concluded. They added that since some companies perform better than others "this variation could be addressed if performance leaders were willing to share their best practices with other virtual-visit companies."
"Further research is required to evaluate whether better-performing virtual visit companies have adopted some company-wide policy or protocol(s) that increase guideline adherence," the authors said.