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    There is no previous work on the relationship between a virtual visit for viral upper respiratory tract infection and improved outcome, even though there is data on the prevalence and other descriptors. We do not know if a virtual visit is an independent prognostic factor in community-based patients. With the exponential growth of this type of clinical visit, it is important for both clinical and planning considerations to evaluate this question. We analyzed a cohort of adult patients with newly diagnosed viral upper respiratory tract infection from a database of health plan patients seen virtually on telemedicine and in person at urgent cares in Las Vegas, Nevada between January 2014 and September 2014. Logistic regression, Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, and Cox proportional hazard model were used. Among the final 6,756 patients selected with upper respiratory tract infections (median age of 41.5), 6% had virtual visits, while the rest were seen in person at urgent cares. Patients who had virtual visits were more likely to be younger, but had no other firm demographic differences from those seen for upper respiratory tract infections in urgent care. Hazard ratio for 2-week follow-up (= failure), with no significant effect from covariates, was 0.55 (confidence interval 0.324-0.939, p < 0.05) in virtual patients. In this cohort of patients with upper respiratory tract infection, a virtual visit, compared to an in-person one at urgent care, is an independent prognostic factor for less follow-up within 2 weeks. Further research into other age groups, time periods, and different diagnoses using similar methodology is warranted.


    Lo Fu Tan, Natalie Mason, W James Gonzaga. Virtual Visits for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Adults Associated with Positive Outcome in a Cox Model. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association. 2017 Mar;23(3):200-204

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    PMID: 27351543

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