Virtual e-Visits

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) supports enhanced-access physician-patient interactions, including electronic visits or “virtual e-visits” which occur over safe, secure, online communication systems. AAFP defines a virtual e-visit as an evaluation and management service provided by a physician or other qualified health professional to a patient using a web-based or similar electronic-based communication network for a single patient encounter.


Guidelines for virtual e-visits:

  1. Available technology capabilities as well as an existing physician-patient relationship impact whether the standard of care can be achieved for a virtual visit, and clinical guidelines or protocols should be in place that identify whether a virtual visit for the chief complaint/presenting complaints and active diagnoses meet the standard of care;
  2. The patient agrees to virtual visit service terms, privacy policy, and charge for receiving a virtual visit from a physician or other qualified health professional;
  3. Electronic communication occurs over a HIPAA-compliant online connection;
  4. A virtual e-visit includes the total interchange of online inquiries and other communications associated with this single patient encounter;
  5. The physician or provider appropriately documents the virtual visit, including all pertinent communication related to the encounter, in the patient’s medical/health record;
  6. The physician or other qualified health professional has a defined period of time within which responses to a virtual visit request are completed;
  7. The treating physician or provider within a virtual visit should forward a summary of the visit to the patient’s primary care physician or medical home, and communicate with the primary care physician as necessary; and
  8. Virtual e-visits should be a payable physician service.

(2008) (2018 COD)