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Comment & Response
June 26, 2018

Virtual Care as a Specialty

Author Affiliations
  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital Center for TeleHealth, Harvard Medical School, Boston
JAMA. 2018;319(24):2559. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.5666

To the Editor Drs Nochomovitz and Sharma proposed a new medical specialty, the “medical virtualist,”1 in which clinicians focus much or all of their care delivery through virtual methods and become experts in practice elements that are unique to virtual care and telehealth. This approach runs the risk of further segregating clinicians into silos and introducing additional challenges in integrating longitudinal care delivery. The rapid rise of virtual urgent care likely reflects a growing dissatisfaction with the relative unavailability of primary or specialty care after hours or at unscheduled times. A more attractive alternative is ensuring that all clinicians become competent in the practice of virtual care as part of delivering high-quality care across the continuum, much as all physicians are expected to become facile with electronic health records rather than transforming this expertise into its own specialty.