Telemed Doctors No More or Less Likely to Prescribe Antibiotics


Antibiotic prescriptions were as frequent among doctors providing care through a telemedicine appointment as physicians who saw patients face-to-face, a new study found, but the types of antibiotics prescribed via telemedicine were more expensive and could increase antimicrobial resistance.

The study, conducted by the Rand Corp., and published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine, analyzed telemedicine appointments for 1,700 patients who received treatment for respiratory infections between April 2012 and October 2013 by provider Teladoc and compared them with 64,000 patients who were treated at a doctor’s office for the same condition.

Researchers found both treatment settings had high rates of using antibiotics for treating acute respiratory infections, which has been estimated to not be clinically necessary in about half of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions.

It found patients who used Teladoc were prescribed antibiotics at a rate of 58% compared with 55% at a doctor’s office, suggesting there was little difference in the quality of care provided across both health settings.

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