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According to a JAMA study, providers are increasingly billing patient-initiated text messages as “telemedicine.”  Not to be confused with synchronous video visits, more than 100,000 such text-message charges were billed per month in 2022, and monthly volume increased 40% from Q4 of 2021 to Q4 of 2022. That’s the same comparison period in which urgent care visits were down significantly as the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant emerged. 

Top UC diagnoses: “What really stands out are the top 3 diagnoses—acute sinusitis, urinary tract infection, and acute respiratory infection—all coincidently among the top urgent care diagnoses,” says Alan Ayers, President of Experity Consulting and Senior Editor of JUCM.  “While presumably this messaging is with an established primary care provider or specialist relationship, there’s still no physical or even visual examination of the patient, no vitals, and no lab test conducted. Not only does this beg the question of clinical quality, these top 3 conditions are typically treated with antibiotics, which could lead to ineffective or excessive antibiotic prescribing.”

More Providers Billing For Patient Text Messages