Is the Trek to the Doctor Worth It? Will an E-Visit do?
Research suggests that, at least for two medical complaints (sinus infection and urinary tract infection) results are comparable. The study by RAND and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study involved 8000 visits, 90% of which were in person. The data are from Jan 2010 and May 2011. In an e-visit patients fill out a form online about symptoms and the doctor/burse contacts them with a treatment plan.
After seeing the doctor (in person or via computer) both groups had just a 7% or lower return rate. That means, no matter how the doctor was visited, just 7% returned with issues related to the same complaint. E-visits for UTIs are estimated to run $74 while in person ones are $93.
The biggest difference in the two groups? Doctors prescribed antibiotics for UTIs 99% of the time during e-visits while just 49% of the time in person. The suggestion is without the ability to examine the patient, the doctor prescribes rather than doing nothing.