40.7 million in United States tend to seek telehealth care

Health and Wellness Informatics News

Patients with acute conditions had initial telehealth encounters. They appeared to require additional follow-up visits.

A study discusses 40.7 million commercially insured adults seeking telehealth care. They found contrasting patterns of follow-up care. This was between those with chronic conditions and those with acute clinical conditions. Research published in JAMA Network Open. It assessed the outcomes of care two weeks after patients’ initial ambulatory encounters.

Researchers stated, “Telehealth accounted for a large share of ambulatory encounters at the peak of the pandemic and remained prevalent after infection rates subsided. Telehealth encounters for chronic conditions had similar rates of follow-up to in-person encounters for these conditions, whereas telehealth encounters for acute conditions seemed to be more likely than in-person encounters to require follow-up.”

The surge of telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic ensured the longevity of the model. It has been the subject of extensive inquiry over the past two years.

The latest study examined more than 40 million privately insured patients. This was for patients of the age of 65. Dr. Joe Kvedar is the chair of the ATA board.

He stated that the study appeared to be the first published assessment of clinically relevant outcomes. It compared telehealth and in-person encounters in a nationally representative population.

It was one of the most comprehensive telehealth care assessments from late 2020. Also, it looked at factors associated with changing patterns of telehealth use beyond the initial months of the pandemic.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health collaborated with collaborators from Blue Health Intelligence and the Digital Medicine Society. They also found that patients with acute clinical conditions first sought care via telehealth.

They had higher odds of having a follow-up encounter. This is an emergency department encounter and in-patient admission than those who seek care. Those with chronic conditions’ odds of follow-up encounter were lower than those with an initial telehealth encounter.

Researchers wrote that this trend got observed especially for acute respiratory-related conditions. This was also potentially confounded by concerns over Covid-19.

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