The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) supports enhanced-access physician-patient interactions, including electronic visits or “virtual visits” which occur over safe, secure, online communication systems. AAFP defines a virtual 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 visits:
- 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;
- Electronic communication occurs over a HIPAA-compliant online connection;
- A virtual visit includes the total interchange of online inquiries and other communications associated with this single patient encounter;
- The physician or provider appropriately documents the virtual visit, including all pertinent communication related to the encounter, in the patient’s medical/health record;
- The physician or other qualified health professional has a defined period of time within which responses to a virtual visit request are completed;
- 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
- Virtual visits should be a payable physician service.
(2008) (December 2017 BOD)