Active healthcare practitioners are now enjoying the option of choosing one of three approaches to deliver care: in-person only, hybrid telehealth, and telehealth-only. As detailed in earlier Telehealth.org articles about future opportunities in telehealth, Medicare offers unparalleled practice development and specialization opportunities. For instance, in behavioral care, Medicare has approved telephone and video teletherapy reimbursement.
Why Consider Medicare’s Telehealth Usage?
Since the pandemic’s start, telehealth statistics have offered healthcare companies crucial insights into patient use of virtual health facilities and the types of conditions that attract the broadest telemedicine support.
Telehealth usage reports continue to be strong as studies come in. According to statistics published in the Fair Health Monthly Telehealth tracker, telehealth usage in July reached 5.3% of claim lines across the country, representing an increase of 1.9% since June, The Fair Health tracker monitors and records telehealth usage and publishes statistics on telehealth claims, procedure codes, and categories of diagnosis of privately insured people. The statistics exclude Medicaid claims and Medicare Fee-For-Service. They incorporate Medicare Advantage claims.
The June and July national increases in telemedicine use were driven by increases in three of the four census regions, the South, West, and Midwest. The July increase follows a drop of 3.7% in telemedicine usage from May to June.
The most significant increase was in the West, with a 5.7% growth in telehealth use and a 0.4% claim line increase from 7% to 7.4%, though telehealth usage dropped in the Northeast by 3.3%. The telehealth usage increases of 4.9% in the South and 2.5% in the Midwest more than made up for this.
Social Work Holds the Number One Position in Telehealth Usage
Social work took the first position regionally and nationally in specialties. Social work has held the top spot since February. In the South, claim lines for social work dropped by 8.7%. Over the same period, psychiatric telehealth use increased by 8.1%.
There was also a position switch in two regions where psychologists and psychiatrists traded places in the Northeast, and psychologists and non-primary care physicians swopped places on the Midwest list of telehealth specialties during July.
Nationally, the number one procedure in July remained unchanged, and as it has been for the last five months, one-hour psychotherapy Code 90837. Nationally, the median charge for telehealth services was $17.72.
COVID-19 Still a Feature of Telemedicine
COVID-19 held the second position for diagnoses in every region and nationally. In the Northeast, joint and soft tissue diseases entered the top five list, while acute respiratory diseases dropped off. In the West, endocrine and metabolic disorders replaced acute respiratory diseases on the top five diagnoses list.
The latest statistics indicate that telehealth usage has become a valued feature of the healthcare ecosystem, with people continuing to support the easier access that remote healthcare offers. We can expect continued opportunities in Medicare’s telehealth usage in the future.
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