Online Follow-up Visits Provide Similar Clinical Outcomes as Office Visits

According to the results of a study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, patients with acne who complete a follow-up visit via a secure website may achieve similar clinical outcomes as patients who receive in-person visits.

Patients with acne who complete a follow-up visit via a secure website may achieve similar clinical outcomes as patients who receive in-person visits, according to the results of a new study from Massachusetts General Hospital that was led by Alice J. Watson, MBChB, MRCP, MPH and Hagit Bergman, MD, MPH.

Watson, Bergman, and their research team asked a total of 151 patients with mild to moderate facial acne to carry out four follow-up visits, either by an e-visit platform or conventional office care. Every six weeks, the patients using the e-visit platform were asked to send images of their skin and an update, through the secure website, to the dermatologist. The primary outcome the researchers looked at was the change in total inflammatory lesion count between the first and last visit.

Among the initial 151 patients who began the study, 121 completed it. The decrease in total inflammatory lesion count was similar in both groups of patients, 6.67 and 9.39, respectively (P = .49), according to an abstract of the study published in Archives of Dermatology.

In addition to the medical outcomes, the researchers also evaluated other parameters. Participants and physicians were both satisfied with comparable care, regardless of visit type (P = .06 and P = .16, respectively). Although e-visits were time saving for patients, they were time-neutral for dermatologists – 4 minutes, 8 seconds versus 4 minutes, 42 seconds (P = .57).

“Delivering follow-up care to acne patients via an e-visit platform produced clinical outcomes equivalent to those of conventional office visits,” the researchers conclude in the Archives of Dermatology abstract.