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E-visits for Acne Patient Follow-Up Found Effective

Compared with conventional office visits, online follow-up results in equivalent clinical outcomes

WEDNESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Follow-up care for acne patients delivered via online visits, or "e-visits," results in an equivalent outcome clinically compared with conventional office visits, according to a study in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Alice J. Watson, of the Center for Connected Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective, randomized controlled study of 151 patients with mild to moderate facial acne. Initial patient encounters occurred in-office, with four follow-up visits conducted either electronically or via traditional office encounter. E-visit follow-ups included patient submission of digital images and an update to the dermatologist, who responded to patient concerns and prescribed medication, both done electronically.

As measured by the decrease in the count of inflammatory acne lesions, the researchers found that improvements in facial acne occurred in both the e-visit and office-visit groups (P = .49). Satisfaction with the clinical care received/delivered was comparable among study patients and dermatologists in both groups (P = .06 and P = .16, respectively). E-visits were time-saving for patients and time-neutral for dermatologists compared with conventional office visits (4 minutes, 8 seconds versus 4 minutes 42 seconds; P = .57).

"These findings suggest that dermatologists obtain sufficient information from digital images and survey responses to make appropriate management decisions in the treatment of acne. In addition, this model of care delivery was popular with both physicians and patients, likely owing to the convenience and/or time savings associated with e-visits. Familiarity with online banking, travel, and shopping sites may promote patient interest in receiving the same level of convenience and 24/7 access to services in the health care industry, a field traditionally slow to respond to consumer preferences," the authors write.

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