Cleveland Clinic conducted a study of more than 12,000 telemedicine encounters involving children with respiratory ailments and found that antibiotics were prescribed in more than half of the visits, and that patient satisfaction was strongly linked to receiving an antibiotic. Providers who prescribed antibiotics were more than three times likely to receive a 5-star rating from patients. The net takeaways: the growing body of research suggests that antibiotic prescribing in the U.S. for respiratory tract infections (RTIs) is high in telemedicine, both for children and adults and that patients who receive antibiotics are more satisfied with the encounter.

Limits to the Technology?

By enabling parents to connect to a healthcare provider remotely, through a smartphone, tablet, etc. then direct-to-consumer (DTC) telemedicine providers families with a more convenient and cheaper option for receiving care. But what about the ability of the physician to look inside of the child’s ear, or strep test—it makes it hard to follow guidelines for appropriate prescribing.

A Prominent Physician Chimes In

J.D. Zipkin, MD associate medical director of Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, a network of urgent care centers in New York reports that “Telemedicine has the tremendous potential to improve access to healthcare and decrease unnecessary ER visits when used correctly and responsibly.” But he continued “Unfortunately, the field as a whole is in need of higher clinical quality standards and regulations, and has the potential to promote poor healthcare practices without them.”

There has been a slow but steady call for telemedicine use in clinical trials. What are the implications? Follow the rest of the story for more interesting details.

Lead Research/Investigator

Charles Foster, MD

Source: CIDRAP

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