Study Finds Similar Diagnoses Between Clinical In-Person And Telehealth Visits

A JAMA Network Study that compared the diagnostic concordance of various treatment modalities discovered high levels of diagnostic concordance between telehealth and in-person visits overall. In order to address the concerns associated with viral exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous healthcare organizations switched in-person appointments to video telehealth visits. As a result, telehealth utilization grew exponentially. Experts believe that the shift in patient volume from physical clinical visits to video telehealth services will likely have a long-lasting effect on how healthcare is provided in the long term. However, the lack of telehealth research may make it difficult for clinicians to develop evidence-based management strategies that are specifically suited to digital health care. In order to examine the relationship between online and conventional in-person treatment approaches, researchers utilized physician diagnostic concordance as a unit of assessment. 

The data for the study was gathered from 2,393 patients from an academic integrated multispeciality healthcare facility. The median age of patients’ median age was 53, with 1381 identifying as female and 1012 identifying as male. 2,080 of the 2,393 patients showed diagnostic concordance across online and in-person visits. In addition, researchers also employed theTenth Revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems in order to examine concordance between various illnesses. As a result, researchers discovered diagnostic concordance scores as high as 96.8 percent for neoplasms and as low as 64.7 percent for disorders affecting the ear and mastoid process. A broad variety of concordance rates were also observed across the medical disciplines. Otorhinolaryngology and psychiatry had diagnostic concordance rates of 77.3 and 96 percent, respectively.

According to the study’s outcomes, diagnostic concordance between in-person and telehealth consultations was generally consistent, which led researchers to assume that both treatment modes are trustworthy for determining diagnoses. However, the researchers did note the study’s limitations, particularly regarding the inability to generalize findings and the lack of population diversity. The researchers concluded ”Primary care video telemedicine programs designed to accommodate new patients or new presenting clinical problems may benefit from a lowered threshold for timely in-person direct follow-up in patients suspected to have diseases typically confirmed by physical examination, neurological testing, or pathology.”