Health and Wellness Informatics News

A study of 36.5 M people is revealing a huge jump in the use of telehealth in the pandemic

During the first four months of the pandemic, the visits for telehealth accounted for 23.6% of all the total interactions. Compared to the 0.3% of the contacts from 2019, it is much higher.

A Cohort study regarding more than 36 million people in the United States came up with a dramatic increase in telehealth use during the first four months of the pandemic. Using the data of Blue Health Intelligence data repository, a set of independent data and analytics companies compared the data from March through June 2019 with March through June 2020.

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open opts for supporting the existing data. This data is showing skyrocketing telehealth rates during the pandemic situation.

Researchers limits in the study populations to the individuals who are covering through the employer-based Affordable Care Act. Also, it includes other private health insurance plans. But it does not include any Medicare or Medicaid. This is an important limitation given with the emerging evidence regarding the role of virtual care.

Still, researchers are finding that the virtual care use rates are higher in the most socially advantaged neighborhoods. The rates were also higher in the states with a higher rate of COVID-19 during the study and in many urban locations.

Age and disease burden also associates with the telehealth uptake, with the 18-49 years aged and with 2 or more chronic conditions with the use of telehealth. Behavioral health encounters were more likely than the medical contacts, which are going to take place virtually. Moreover, people receiving COVID-19 care come with more medical costs along with better visit rates and better telehealth use rates.

According to researchers relying on claim-based data can also have many limitations. Telehealth has become a frequently cited mantra in a wide range among all the stakeholders. Though members of Congress have introduced legislation to save virtual care access, no bills are making it to the law.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission told policymakers this month that they should continue with the sole of the telehealth flexibilities allowed during the public health emergency. This is going to gather more evidence about the impact of telehealth on care access, quality, and better program spendin