The researchers were keen to note that telemedicine consultations seemed to be associated more with use of broad spectrum antibiotics more frequently unlike in in-person visits. About a million people used devices such as Smartphones in 2014 to remotely engage with the physicians who were working for the telemedicine companies even though some few studies seems to compare in- person physician appointments with in- person appointments. A team of researchers currently evaluated the outcomes of about 1725 consultations by patients having acute respiratory infections at Teladocic, a big telemedicine company  and about 64, 099 consultations at the physician’s office using data collected between April 2012 and October 2013 for those aged 18 and 64 years.

What the researchers found out

Essentially, all those who participated in the study were ideally members of California Public Employees Retirement System that had contracted Teledoc since April 2012. Researchers were keen to note that the oral antibiotic prescriptions that had been filled within the 3 days of consultations had identified a huge spectrum of antibiotics, i.e. macrolides and fluoroquinolones. There was about the same percentage of visits taken by patients for acute respiratory infections that had resulted in antibiotic treatment which was nearly the same in either setting. But there was a high likelihood of the Teladoc clinicians to prescribe antibiotics as a means for treating bronchitis and pharyngitis and the likelihood of prescribing them for nasopharyngitis and respiratory infection was less likely just like the clinicians for in- person visits. Besides, there was a high likelihood of Teladoc clinicians prescribing more antibiotics, which essentially stood at 86% for Teladoc in comparison to 56% for the physician office visits.

Common antibiotics were prescribed at similar rates by these two settings, i.e. azithromycin that stood at 58% for Teladoc and 45% for physician offices, amoxicillin that was 27% for Teladoc and 29% for physician offices and levofloxacin that was %% and 3% for Physician offices and Teladoc respectively. A

Inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions

According to these findings, prescription of antibiotics was found to be inappropriate like for bronchitis in either of the settings as warned by the investigators. Concern is also cited as well for the overreliance of telemedicine when it came to broad spectrum of antibiotics and this might lead to resistance developing. The researchers came with a hypothesis that Teladoc physicians seemed to favor a broad spectrum of drugs more as a compensation for the limited information available to patients in comparison with what is available at the physician’s office. It was suggested by the researchers that there is need for direct to consumer firms to work harder when it comes to educating patients and physicians on the best antibiotic prescription.