Virtual Visits With One’s Own PCP Tied to Fewer ED Visits

A study in Ontario found that patients who had a virtual visit with a provider other than their own primary care physician (PCP) were 66% more likely to visit the emergency department (ED) within 7 days, compared to those who had a virtual visit with their own PCP. The risk of ED visits was higher in low-acuity patients. Patients who saw an outside physician were more likely to have repeat virtual visits and in-person PCP visits, but less likely with their own physician. Doctors suggested that virtual visits should be used within an existing therapeutic relationship. Experts emphasize the importance of leveraging virtual care in primary care settings and the need for further research on total cost of care and patient outcomes associated with virtual visits.

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