Better Access Through Virtual Visits

Better Access Through Virtual Visits Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Patients with minor health problems generally must schedule an appointment and travel to a health care provider’s office or clinic for care, often having to wait a day or more and take time away from work or other activities to attend the visit. Virtual visits can reduce wait times by allowing off-hours consultations and allow providers to safely diagnose and treat patients in remote locations and quickly identify more serious or ambiguous cases in which inperson care is required.

The featured Innovations describe three programs that used virtual visits to increase patient access to health care. The programs include one in which a solo practitioner provided year-round, 24-hour-a-day access to care for her patients through liberal use of “virtual” or e-mail visits and telephone calls; another that used an online clinic to diagnose and treat minor health problems with a protocol-based treatment plan; and one that allowed patients with skin conditions to submit their medical history and photographs through secure, Web-based applications for review by a dermatologist.

The featured QualityTools include a Web site that offers resources on using technology to assist care coordination and improve the independence of older adults, a guide for developing a remote diabetic retinopathy screening program, and a toolkit for developing telehealth activities.

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