Teladoc Health, USC Collaborate for Groundbreaking Study of Virtual Care Prescribing

Researchers take telehealth quality initiatives to the next level by examining antibiotic prescribing influences

PURCHASE, NY, November 14, 2018Teladoc Health (NYSE: TDOC), the global leader in virtual care, is pleased to announce that together with the University of Southern California (USC) Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and Northwestern University, the company will be leading the first-ever, large-scale study to assess antibiotic prescribing practices in telehealth. 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). This study is expected to set a new precedent in medical literature by adding specific standards for telehealth and virtual care.

“At Teladoc Health we’ve made it not only our priority, but our responsibility, to set clinical quality standards for virtual care, and that includes smart, effective antibiotic prescribing. Working together with the research teams at USC and Northwestern, we’re uniquely positioned to continue our leadership in setting the highest quality standards and improving patient outcomes around the globe,” says Jason Tibbels, vice president, clinical services, Teladoc Health.

For years now, antibiotic stewardship has been a top priority for Teladoc Health. 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.

“Telemedicine is the future of care, and so it’s vital that stewardship strategies are systematically studied in this rapidly growing setting,” said Daniella Meeker, the principal investigator on the study, and an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Schaeffer Center. “Through this collaboration, we will be able to answer critical questions about the ways in which patients and physicians respond to nudges intended to improve care,” added Meeker.

Meeker, Jeffrey Linder, MD, Mark Friedberg, MD, and Jason Doctor, along with Jason Tibbels, MD, will lead the research project. They are recognized experts for their innovative studies that use behavioral economics to nudge physicians toward appropriate prescribing.

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.

“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.”

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 “super bugs” 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.

About Teladoc Health

A mission-driven organization, Teladoc Health, Inc. is successfully transforming how people access and experience healthcare, with a focus on high quality, lower costs, and improved outcomes around the world. The company’s award-winning, integrated clinical solutions are inclusive of telehealth, expert medical services, AI and analytics, and licensable platform services. With more than 2,000 employees, the organization delivers care in 125 countries and in more than 20 languages, partnering with employers, hospitals and health systems, and insurers to transform care delivery. For more information, please visit or follow @TeladocHealth on Twitter.