Variation in Quality of Care Among Virtual Urgent Care Providers

September 2016

With the rise of technology in the 21st century, patients have been increasingly turning to telemedicine in response to their need for timely and easily accessible care. Commercial virtual visits, new methods by which patients can request live consultations with physicians over the Internet, have become increasingly popular, with one company noting a user base approaching 6 million. However, the relatively new telemedicine companies, which are designed to bridge the gap—physical and otherwise—between providers and patients must be held accountable for the quality of care they provide.

In a HCFO-funded study, R. Adams Dudley, M.D., M.B.A., University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and colleagues performed an audit study to assess the quality of care provided by the eight direct-to-consumer virtual care websites with the highest web traffic. The researchers quantified the variation in performance among these companies with the goal of guiding the development of a regulatory framework or industry standards governing the commercial virtual visit business.