A randomized trial of virtual visits in a general medicine practice

J Telemed Telecare. 2009;15(3):115-7. doi: 10.1258/jtt.2009.003003.


We compared desktop videoconferencing to conventional face-to-face visits for a range of commonly presenting problems in a general practice. A total of 175 patients were recruited. Patients were randomized to one of two arms of the study. In the first arm, the patients completed a visit (virtual or face-to-face) with a physician; they then completed a second visit via the other modality with another physician. In the second arm of the study, subjects had both visits face-to-face; different physicians conducted the two face-to-face consultations. Patients found virtual visits similar to face-to-face visits on most measures, including time spent with the physician, ease of interaction and personal aspects of the interaction. Physicians were also highly satisfied with the virtual visit modality. The diagnostic agreement between physicians was 84% between face-to-face and virtual visits; it was 80% between the two face-to-face visits. The study suggests that both patients and physicians could benefit if virtual visits were used as an alternative method of accessing primary care services.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Decision Making
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Videoconferencing*
  • Young Adult