How would you like to “see” your dermatologist via your computer instead of going to a traditional office visit? As health care has become more expensive, managing certain conditions through e-visits has become a worthy option to consider. A 2010 study tested this idea and came away with these results.
The study involved 151 patients with mild to moderate facial acne who each were first examined with an initial office visit where researchers took three baseline photographs of their faces.
Subjects assigned to the online group were given digital cameras and instructed on how to take photographs at home, to be compared with their baseline ones. E-visit patients received four online visits as follow up while the control group attended four in-office visits.
The study had some notable results. Of the 54 patients who participated in the online visits, 39 needed to resubmit photos due to poor quality or other technical errors (problems uploading).
Twenty percent of the online group dropped out, which statistically was not outside of what was estimated, but did indicate to the researchers that those who are motivated to participate in e-visits need time and encouragement to adapt to this new practice.
At the same time, most subjects of the e-visit group felt their dermatologist could assess their acne just as well online as in person (76 percent), that questions and concerns were addressed equally as well (83 percent) and 91 percent would consider using e-visits again. Dermatologists were more likely to report a greater desire to manage the patient visits online versus in their office.
The online visits and in-office visits took about the same amount of time though on average, patients spent 22 minutes waiting to be seen in the office and almost half of the office visit patients spent between 30 and 60 minutes traveling to the office.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) supports enhanced-access physician-patient interactions through a secure electronic means, provided that the patient has previously received care from the physician.