For patients with sinusitis or urinary tract infection (UTI), follow-up is similar following office visits or e-visits, but antibiotics are more likely to be prescribed and preventive care is less likely with e-visits, according to a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine (2013;173:72-74).

Ateev Mehrotra, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues compared the care at e-visits and office visits for sinusitis and UTI using data from all office and e-visits for these two conditions at four primary care practices within the University of Pittsburg between January 2010 and May 2011.

The researchers found that e-visits made up 9% of the 5,165 visits for sinusitis and 3% of the 2,954 visits for UTI. At e-visits, physicians were significantly less likely to order a UTI-related test (8% vs. 51%), while few sinusitis-relevant tests were ordered at office visits or e-visits. There was no significant difference in follow-up for office visits or e-visits, for either condition. For both conditions, physicians were more likely to prescribe an antibiotic at an e-visit, but they were less likely to order preventive care. Of the patients who had an e-visit, 50% of those with subsequent episodes of sinusitis or UTI had an e-visit.

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“Our results highlight key differences between office visits and e-visits and emphasize the need to assess the clinical impact of e-visits as their popularity grows,” the researchers noted.