First published study that examines quality of telehealth for broad range of minor illnesses
February 17, 2017

HealthCore Inc. and LiveHealth Online today announced the results of a new study sponsored by Anthem, Inc. and published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (Vol 19, No 2 (2017): February).The results found that LiveHealth Online virtual video visits with doctors resolve medical issues for minor ailments, such as sinus infections, pink eye and ear ache, just as well as face-to-face visits with a healthcare provider. The study is the first to broadly explore the quality of virtual video visits.

“Based on our review of published literature and anecdotal experiences, people have questioned whether doctors practicing virtually can appropriately treat illnesses in the absence of physical interaction with their patients,” said Andrea DeVries, senior author of the study and staff vice president of research at HealthCore. “This study demonstrates that they can when treating several minor ailments among people who do not have chronic conditions.”

Researchers examined claims submitted by consumers who have a covered telehealth benefit for visits using LiveHealth Online. They looked at 11 of the most common telehealth diagnoses and discovered that most patients had similar numbers of follow-up visits as those who saw a provider at an urgent health care clinic, retail health clinic, emergency department or doctor’s office for the same types of ailments. Also, patients who had video visits with doctors via LiveHealth Online had fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits within a three–week period after their telehealth visit than those who saw providers in a urgent care clinic, emergency department or doctor’s office.

“By using follow-up visits as a proxy for misdiagnoses or treatment failures, we can tell consumers are getting resolution to their health concerns through video visits because they are not then going on to have face-to-face visits with other providers,” said John Jesser, president of LiveHealth Online. “The outcome of this research is a great step in boosting confidence among consumers that a telehealth visit using LiveHealth Online is an effective way to manage a minor health issue when they cannot get to their regular doctor.”

The study analyzed insurance claims data with service dates between January 1, 2014 and May 11, 2015 on the following conditions over a three-week period beginning with the claim for the first visit: sinusitis, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, pink eye, bronchitis, sore throat, influenza, cough, dermatitis, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea and ear ache. Approximately 4,600 virtual visits using LiveHealth Online were examined in addition to 55,310 visits to in person locations at urgent care clinics, retail health clinics, emergency departments or doctor’s offices.

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