Telemedicine helps extend relationships for primary care providers: 7 study insights

Patients have historically been slow to adopt telemedicine — but those who do report strong satisfaction, according to a research letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The letter, authored by researchers from Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, assessed telemedicine usage at a health system that had implemented the capability for all clinicians to conduct video visits in 2014. In total, researchers analyzed 210,383 scheduled video visits among 152,809 patients from 2015 through 2017.

Here are seven highlights:

1. Most visits (77 percent) related to medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, after-hours care or psychiatry.

2. Of the nearly 81,549 adult primary care video visits, 70 percent of the appointments were with the patient's own primary care provider.

3. More than 90 percent of patients who scheduled a video visit had accessed in-person healthcare in the previous year.

4. Patients were most likely to use smartphones (74 percent) to facilitate video visits, followed by desktop computers (20 percent) and tablets (6 percent).

5. The average length of a video visit was 8.2 minutes.

6. Two-thirds of visits were successfully completed, with patients and physicians connecting via video at the scheduled time. Patients were more likely to successfully connect with their physician remotely when they scheduled a session with their own primary care provider.

7. Ninety-three percent of patients reported the video visit met their needs.

"We studied a novel model of integrating telemedicine seamlessly with patients' ongoing clinicians, EHRs and delivery systems, distinct from most direct-to-consumer telehealth-only services," the research letter reads. "We found that video visits extended established patient-physician relationships, with the majority of video visits involving familiar clinicians, often the patient's own primary care provider."  

To access the research letter, click here.

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