Kaiser analysis of telehealth shows low rates of follow-up care

An analysis of telehealth visits from the research arm of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente found that 11.8 percent of video visits and 12.5 percent of phone visits were followed by an in-person office visit.

The researchers found that just 1.2 percent of video and 1.5 percent of phone visits required a trip to the emergency room. The study examined 734,442 patient-initiated primary care telehealth visits between March and October 2020, according to a Jan. 27 American Journal of Managed Care news release.

Despite the rise in popularity of video telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the study found that over half — 58.4 percent — of telehealth visits were conducted by phone call.

"This is a reassuring message that both types of telemedicine look like they are meeting patients' needs well enough that patients are not often returning to the clinic or emergency room or worse, being hospitalized," Mary Reed, DrPH, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and senior author of the study, said.


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