Virtual care provider Teladoc Health is teaming up the University of Southern California (USC) Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and Northwestern University, to launch a large-scale study to assess antibiotic prescribing practices in telehealth. With concerted proactive initiatives in place, including both provider and member education programs, prescribing rates fall at or below the industry average. Researchers will now look to build on this work, accessing the organization’s unrivaled amount of available data from millions of completed patient visits.
5-Year Virtual Care Prescribing Study Overview
Led by Meeker, Jeffrey Linder, MD, and Mark Friedberg, along with Jason Tibbels, MD, will lead the research project, the five-year project is funded through a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and as part of the White House’s National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB). The new study is expected to set a new model in the medical literature by adding specific standards for telehealth and virtual care.
In addition, the comprehensive study will include the largest-ever randomized quality improvement trial in telehealth, looking at the key factors that influence antibiotic prescribing in a virtual care setting. By studying existing prescribing behavior, the teams can then adapt and develop further processes and define how novel behavioral science interventions can encourage safe and effective antibiotic use.
Antibiotic Prescribing – A Universal Issue
Across delivery sites, including primary care and urgent care settings, an estimated one in three of all outpatient antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily, resulting in the rise of dangerous, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that infect at least 2 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Extra light is now shown on the issue as part of the CDC-led U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, held this week, November 12-18, to seek to improve antibiotic prescribing and use.
“Our researchers at USC and Northwestern have vast experience in antibiotic prescribing research,” says Jeffrey A. Linder, MD, MPH, FACP, Professor and Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at Northwestern. “We are excited to expand our breadth with Teladoc Health on the largest study ever for quality improvement in telehealth. Antibiotics are an indispensable tool in the traditional clinic and in telehealth; by studying antibiotic prescribing and evaluating interventions in telehealth, we hope to help the entire medical community to improve medical quality in prescribing practices across all care environments to benefit patients and society.”