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Telehealth Claim Lines Increase 2,938 Percent Nationally When Comparing November 2019 to November 2020

COVID-19, for the First Time, Becomes One of the Top Five Telehealth Diagnoses in the Midwest, according to FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker

NEW YORK, NY—February 2, 2021—Telehealth claim lines increased 2,938 percent nationally from November 2019 to November 2020, rising from 0.20 percent of medical claim lines in November 2019 to 6.01 percent in November 2020, according to new data from FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. From month to month, the telehealth share of medical claim lines rose 7.1 percent nationally, from 5.61 percent in October 2020 to 6.01 percent in November 2020. The data represent the privately insured population, excluding Medicare and Medicaid.

Trends in the four US census regions (Midwest, Northeast, South and West) were similar to those in the nation as a whole. In each region, there were large percent increases in volume of claim lines from November 2019 to November 2020; smaller increases occurred from October to November 2020 in every region but the South, where the volume of claim lines dropped 2.5 percent.

Higher telehealth utilization from March to November 2020 in comparison with the same months in 2019 was likely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as patients and providers turned to telehealth as a way of reducing the risk of disease transmission associated with in-person visits.

Other notable findings of the November Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker concern the top five telehealth diagnoses by volume. In November 2020, COVID-19 appeared for the first time on one of the regional lists of top five telehealth diagnoses, ranking fourth in the Midwest. Its appearance may reflect the surging number of COVID-19 cases and relatively fewer telehealth visits for other conditions, such as the flu, cases of which have been unusually low this season.

Another rising diagnosis was exposure to communicable diseases, probably also related to COVID-19. From October to November 2020, exposure to communicable diseases jumped from number five to number two on the national list of telehealth diagnoses. Simultaneously, it rose in the rankings in all regions except the Midwest, where it stayed at number three, the same as the previous month.

From October to November 2020, mental health conditions remained the number one telehealth diagnosis nationally and in every region. But the percentage of telehealth claim lines represented by mental health conditions fell nationally and in every region, perhaps as a result of an increase in COVID-19-related visits. Nationally, mental health conditions decreased from 51.81 percent of telehealth claim lines in October to 48.17 percent in November.

About the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker

Launched in May as a free service, the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker uses FAIR Health data to track how telehealth is evolving from month to month. An interactive map of the four US census regions allows the user to view an infographic on telehealth in a specific month in the nation as a whole or in individual regions. In addition to data on the volume of claim lines, diagnoses and procedure codes, each infographic includes findings on urban versus rural usage.

FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd stated: “As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker is able to provide continuing insights into how it affects telehealth. We will continue to monitor the evolution of this venue of care.”

For the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, click here.

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