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Reuters Health: Patients value convenience of telemedicine

By Lisa Rapaport

Patients who have real-time video visits with their primary care providers instead of in-person exams are generally satisfied with the convenience and quality of their checkups, a new study suggests.

“Prior to the current study there was very little research evidence about primary-care video visits, especially when the visits are with a patient’s own primary care providers (the ones they also visit in-person) as a part of their ongoing clinical care,” said lead study author Dr. Mary Reed of Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

Reed and colleagues surveyed 1,274 patients at Kaiser in Northern California who had a scheduled video visit with a primary care provider in autumn 2015 to see how well the technology and the medical care worked for them.

Patients who had to take time off from work or other responsibilities for an in-person visit reported more often that the video visit reduced their in-person visits.

There were many reasons patients cited for having video visits: 87 percent found it more convenient; 82 percent liked that they could have the video visit with their regular primary care provider; and 70 percent were not sure they needed to go see a doctor in person.

One drawback of the study is that it’s old - the video visits happened several years ago and technology used in 2015 may look a lot different than what’s possible today. Patients in the study were also fairly affluent and educated, and it’s possible results would look different for people with lower income and education levels.

There’s also a limit to what types of medical conditions may be suitable for telemedicine checkups, said Dr. Jay Portnoy, medical director of telemedicine at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

“The most common issues dealt with include colds, rashes, behavior issues and common issues that are embarrassing such as hair loss, erectile dysfunction, birth control and so on,” Portnoy, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.


Read the full story via Reuters Health

Learn more about Telemedicine at Children's Mercy