Virtual Doctor’s Visits Prove to be Effective and Convenient

By G. Daniel Martich, M.D., UPMC's Chief Medical Information Officer

G. Daniel Martich, M.D. 
Healthcare in aisle 7…That’s what many consumers want.  Whether it is provided at a grocery store, urgent care center or the local pharmacy, people have voted with their feet in selecting the easiest way to get care fast.  In the ever-escalating hustle and bustle of life, speedy, efficient and convenient medical care delivery must be a part of the solution. 

That’s why UPMC started developing electronic visits - known as eVisits - several years ago. These virtual doctor’s appointments can turn every day health aggravations into past problems in the most convenient location possible: from home or wherever a patient chooses to access the Internet.

The good news is that a new study by Pitt and UPMC researchers demonstrates that for two non-urgent conditions, sinusitis and urinary tract infections, an eVisit is similar in just about every way to a face-to-face office visit - without the hassle of travel and parking. 

However, we also found that eVisit patients were more likely to receive antibiotics, a concern because misuse of antibiotics across the country is leading to an increase in so-called “super bugs” resistant to these life-saving drugs. When physicians can’t directly examine a patient, they may be more likely to take the “safe” route and order antibiotics. It’s also possible that the sickest patients who can’t make it to the doctor’s office are using eVisits and need antibiotics more often. We’ll be studying this further to ensure that eVisits produce the best results possible for our patients.  

eVisits are now offered via every UPMC primary care physician’s office, covering more than 25 common conditions, including cold, flu and sore throat.  Each of our 130,000 HealthTrak patient portal members can securely submit an eVisit from the comfort of home or from a computer just about anywhere in the world.   So if back pain has you laid up, try an eVisit and you won’t need to call us in the morning.