Medicine in the News

Are Virtual Visits Worth the Hassle?

Online Visits vs. Office Visits

Medicine in the News

virtual visit medical consultation
Image: © aleutie

Diagnosis Life keeps you in the know with the latest in health and wellness. Here are three of the hottest medical stories making the rounds, in simple terms.

  1. People trust virtual visits to give them quality care.

    Diagnosis Life summary:
    Technology is constantly advancing and presenting us with ways to do things in new ways. Are these new ways really better or just more convenient? When it comes to virtual visits, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston published a study in the American Journal of Managed Care to look more closely. Looking at 254 patients, 79% said it was easier to schedule visits, 62% said virtual visits were as good as in-office visits, and 21% said visit quality was even better. Of the 61 clinicians surveyed 70% said scheduling was easier, 59% said visit quality was similar, and 52% said visits were more efficient. One-third of medical professionals, however, thought office visits were better. Both patients (33%) and clinicians (46%) expressed concern that it was harder to make a personal connection with a virtual visit. In any case, some medical problems require a hands-on approach and a physical exam. Please reach out to your healthcare professional to discuss what type of visit is best for you.     

  2. At least one in four antibiotic prescriptions may be inappropriate.

    Diagnosis Life summary:
    Many people demand antibiotic even when they are not indicated. The problem is that many medical professionals cave in and prescribe them anyway. An article in The BMJ (DOI:10.1136/bmj.k5092) looked at more than 15 million prescriptions from 2016 and their associated diagnostic codes. Only 13% of all prescriptions were outright considered appropriate. 23% of prescriptions were considered outright inappropriate for diagnoses like acute bronchitis, upper respiratory tract infections, and other respiratory symptoms. Without seeing specific details from each individual medical record, another 36% of prescriptions may or may not have been appropriate for treatment of ear, throat, and sinus infections. Finally, as many as 29% of the prescriptions did not even have a diagnosis code associated with it, suggesting they may have also been inappropriate.

  3. Caffeine may increase the risk for pregnancy complications.

    Diagnosis Life summary:
    How much is too much caffeine during pregnancy? A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (DOI:10.1093/ajcn/nqy219) looked at the caffeine intake of approximately 1000 pregnant women. The birth weight and gestational age of their newborns was then assessed. Women with the highest caffeine consumption were twice as likely to deliver babies with abnormally low birth weight or short gestational age at birth. It did not matter if the caffeine was from coffee or tea. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends an intake of less than 300mg per day. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend an intake of less than 200mg per day. To put this in perspective, the average cup of coffee has about 100mg per cup and tea has about 33mg per cup.

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