How Telemedicine May Increase Specialty Care Visits

A Veterans Health Administration study found that while telemedicine services are useful in detecting potential eye problems in primary clinics, more telemedicine patients are subsequently visiting eye doctors, creating an influx in specialty visits, according to a report by The Chicago Tribune.

Researchers examined medical records of approximately 2,000 patients at the Atlanta VA Medical Center over two years where nurses used specialized cameras to take images of retinas of diabetic patients and sent them to specialists or image readers to analyze. If the image displayed an abnormality, the patient was then referred to an ophthalmologist.

Approximately one fourth of patients screened were referred to an eye clinic, according to the report.

The data suggests while telemedicine is beneficial in early detection and treatment, specialists should be prepared for an increase in referred patients, according to the report.

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