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While there’s no way to apply stitches, start an IV, or cast a patient remotely, virtual visits may be just fine for many complaints that drive people to urgent care. A new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows that outcomes—defined as the need for follow-up visits for the same complaint—for some common diagnoses were no different between patients seen in person or via video hookup. In fact, that standard was met for 11 of the most common telehealth diagnoses. Patients who had video visits also had fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits within 3 weeks after their telehealth visit. The study, conducted by HealthCore Inc. and LiveHealth Online, analyzed insurance claims data for telehealth encounters between January 1, 2014 and May 11, 2015 for sinusitis, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, pink eye, bronchitis, sore throat, influenza, cough, dermatitis, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea and ear ache. It encompassed roughly 4,600 virtual visits using LiveHealth Online and 55,310 office or emergency room visits. It did not consider patients who have chronic conditions.

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