The present and future of virtual care in GI


The rapid and unprecedented expansion of virtual care in response to COVID-19 is likely to leave a permanent mark on how health care is delivered. While this expansion has been critical in the near term in caring for our patients while minimizing risk of exposure during the pandemic, it is vital to be forward thinking in considering the ongoing value of virtual care in optimizing routine patient care and in reaching our high-need patients in rural and other underserved areas. We are likely to hear more in the coming months regarding the short- and long-term impacts of virtual care expansion as we transition away from COVID and begin to consider how to maximize use of virtual care in our routine practice. Many questions remain, including defining the optimal balance between virtual and in-person care, assessing whether virtual care is a substitute for in-person care or simply additive, and understanding the impacts of virtual care on outcomes. On the latter questions, a recent study from Kaiser Permanente Northern California found that primary care visits conducted virtually resulted in modestly higher rates of follow-up outpatient office visits than initial in-person visits, but no significant difference in 7-day ED visits or hospitalizations. Whether these results are generalizable to GI patient populations is unclear.

Dr. Megan A. Adams

Dr. Megan A. Adams

Highlights from this month’s issue of GIHN include a study evaluating the impact of a “virtual” liver transplant center on access to liver transplant listing among patients in rural areas, another suggesting lower serologic response to COVID-19 vaccines among patients with IBD, a new AGA Clinical Practice Update: Commentary offering tips regarding surveillance after endoscopic submucosal dissection for dysplasia and early-stage GI cancer, and results from a phase 3 clinical trial demonstrating the efficacy of upadacitinib for treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis.

And while the winter weather here in Michigan may suggest otherwise, DDW 2022 is just around the corner – registration opens on Jan. 19, and we look forward to the GI community coming together, whether in person in sunny San Diego or virtually at home or office, for this hybrid conference.

Megan A. Adams, MD, JD, MSc
Editor in Chief

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