There's Good News For Those Who Prefer Telemedicine Over In-Person Doc Visits

Telemedicine diagnoses are nearly as accurate as in-person diagnoses, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed more than 97,000 telemedicine visits between March and June 2020, comparing the accuracy of the diagnoses determined via video visit versus those determined during an in-person follow-up appointment 90 days later (via U.S. News & World Report). Overall, the study found that 87% of preliminary diagnoses made during telemedicine appointments were later confirmed during in-person visits.

However, the accuracy of telemedicine diagnoses varied based on the type of medical condition being evaluated. The study's findings revealed that skin conditions and ear, nose, and throat problems were more difficult to assess over video calls since they often rely on physical exams. On the flip side, telemedicine visits worked the best for mental health evaluations, with 96% of preliminary mental health diagnoses being confirmed in person at a later date.

How to get the most out of your telemedicine visits

In order to ensure that your diagnosis, or lack thereof, is as accurate as possible, experts at Men's Health recommend taking some simple steps to make sure that you actively participate in the visit. For instance, it's important to show up to your appointment prepared by testing your technology to check if the video and microphone on your phone or computer work ahead of the scheduled visit. You should also write down a list of your symptoms and all the medications you take so you can tell your physician when the time comes. It's best to pick a safe and quiet location for your video visit. Pick a place where you can speak freely and won't be disturbed, and refrain from attending your video visits in the car while you're driving. 

It's also important to make sure that you choose a video visit instead of a regular phone call. "More often than not, a video visit is better than a phone call because there is much we can tell about the patient just by looking at them on the camera, such as changes in breathing, rashes, or swelling of a particular area," Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant and professor of general internal medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told Men's Health. That being said, in-person exams are still recommended alongside virtual visits, especially when it comes to annual physical exams.