In a recent study, it has been found that individuals who engage in follow up appointments following a visit to the emergency room, via telehealth, are susceptible to readmittance to the hospital. Researchers compared the rates of subsequent Emergency Department (ED) visits and hospitalization between patients who took part in in-person follow-ups following an initial ED visit and those who had a virtual follow-up visit for the study, which was published in JAMA Network Open this week. Adult patients who visited one of two EDs at an integrated urban academic health system between April 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, were included in the retrospective cohort research. Within 14 days of their ED visit, these patients were released and took part in a follow-up session with a primary care doctor. Approximately seventy percent had a follow-up in person, while thirty percent had a follow-up via telehealth. Overall, seventeen percent of the first ED visits resulted in a return trip, and four percent resulted in the patient being admitted to the hospital. 16 percent of patients who received a post-ED follow-up in person went back to the ED, and four percent were admitted to the hospital within 30 days, according to the study’s findings. Eighteen percent of patients who took part in a virtual follow-up visit after being discharged from the ED went back, and five percent were admitted to the hospital within 30 days. According to subsequent adjusted analyzes, telemedicine follow-up visits were linked to 10.6 more hospitalizations and 28.3 more ED return visits per 1,000 encounters compared to in-person follow-ups.
The researchers are aware of existing limitations to their research, including: ‘the possibility of some unmeasured factors that may have influenced who received in-person and who were consulted via telehealth. Also, some data were missing from uninsured populations, and the study was conducted only at UCLA Health medical centers, so the results may not apply in other settings…The researchers conclude, however, that their findings indicate that the “association of telehealth with increased healthcare utilization warrants further study to evaluate its appropriateness as modality for post-ED follow-up.”