FAIR Health Presents to the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth

May 18, 2023

On April 21, FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd addressed a virtual meeting hosted by the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth within the Health Resources & Services Administration. Ms. Gelburd discussed FAIR Health’s telehealth resources and presented analytics on telehealth utilization and the costs associated with such services.

Attendees included officials and researchers from the Telehealth Focused Rural Health Research Centers, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and the National Center for Health Statistics. The goal of the meeting was to connect researchers from the Telehealth Focused Rural Health Research Centers—whose work informs policy related to healthcare access and population health for rural areas—with potential research partners.

During her portion of the meeting, Ms. Gelburd first reviewed FAIR Health’s telehealth data collection and recent telehealth-oriented research, including its Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, its brief on the evolution of telehealth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and its planned telehealth studies. Data analytics shared during the presentation were based on these resources.

Providing insights from FAIR Health’s private claims repository, Ms. Gelburd illuminated the growth in telehealth utilization since 2019 and telehealth’s endurance beyond the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020. Findings from the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker were shared, suggesting that this venue of care is now seemingly embedded in the nation’s healthcare delivery system, with telehealth claim lines constituting between 4 and 5 percent of all medical claim lines throughout 2022, compared to less than 0.2 percent in 2019. With respect to the geographic breakdown of telehealth utilization, Ms. Gelburd discussed how telehealth use varied by state but was more frequently seen in urban areas than rural areas.

Other data analytics pulled from the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker and presented to the meeting’s attendees included the gender distribution of telehealth usage, the top diagnoses via asynchronous telehealth, the top specialties treating patients via telehealth and audio-only versus video telehealth utilization in rural and urban communities. Ms. Gelburd also shared new data analytics concerning the use of telehealth services among pregnant patients. For example, she revealed that pregnant individuals rarely sought out telehealth services prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but more frequently visited their providers via telehealth in 2020; this uptick in telehealth utilization lasted through the end of 2022, perhaps signaling the staying power of virtual care for this population.

Ms. Gelburd then spoke to FAIR Health’s extensive suite of data benchmark products, FH® Benchmarks. Focusing on two such modules, FH® Telehealth and FH® Allowed Telehealth—which provide a current window into billed and allowed pricing, respectively, for telehealth services—Ms. Gelburd presented cost differentials between telehealth services and non-telehealth services in various states. For example, she revealed that median allowed amounts for CPT®1 90835 (psychotherapy, 45 minutes) were consistently higher when rendered via telehealth than in an office setting across several states and nationally.

To conclude her portion of the meeting, Ms. Gelburd shared information on how to license FAIR Health’s data offerings, explaining that the organization works closely with researchers to meet their data needs and offers flexible collaboration on all facets of projects.

1 CPT © 2022 American Medical Association (AMA). All rights reserved.