Infectious disease is not an area one would expect urgent care to play an important role, typically. If a patient in a rural county needed to “see” an ID at an urban teaching hospital, though, a virtual visit facilitated by the local urgent care center might be the patient’s best shot at getting the care they need in a timely manner. That kind of value has been demonstrated in a new study of infectious disease e-consults through the Virtual Care Clinic from University of Southern California app. Published in Clinical Infectious Disease, the report included data from 285 virtual patient encounters and 195 face-to-face (FTF) visits over the course of a year. The virtual visits actually moved cases along more quickly than the in-person care; for patients whose queries could be answered offsite, answers were obtained within 0.6 days, on average, vs 16. 5 days 16.5 days for FTF patients. E-consults also increased the breadth and volume of total consults. Many queries addressed more frequently via e-consult concerned complaints and diagnoses not uncommon in the urgent care setting (eg, urinary tract infection, C difficile, and immunizations). While the study did not involve urgent care providers, it raises interesting questions of how urgent care might be able to tap into patient care in areas it otherwise would not be considered as a viable option through telehealth technology.

Could Telehealth Usher in Treatment of Broader Complaints in Urgent Care?
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