As telehealth use drops, expert seeks help securing its future
Data from FAIR Health, a nonprofit organization that provides information on health care coverage and insurance, indicate that telehealth use may be dropping after skyrocketing in 2020.
According to the organization, the percentage of individual services or procedures provided via telehealth that were listed on an insurance claim increased from 0.15% in May 2019 to 8.69% in May 2020 — a 5,680% increase — then dropped to 5% in May 2021.
Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, the chair of the American Telemedicine Association, told Healio Primary Care that legislation is on the table to allow CMS to relax some of its rules and allow all Medicare beneficiaries to have access to telehealth even after the public health emergency.
Congress’ failure to act on these proposals as of this story’s posting makes it a “real possibility that telehealth will go down like a rock,” he said, adding that the health care community and others should push members of Congress to act.
“If you’ve been a recipient of telehealth, and you feel like it's been helpful to you, it’s probably worth advocating to someone that you want to see it continue,” said Kvedar, who is also a professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. “If you’re employed, talk to human resources; if you’re a senior citizen, send your member of Congress a letter saying you want Medicare to continue to support this activity.”
This week, the American Telemedicine Association is organizing the first-annual Telehealth Awareness Week to highlight the value of telehealth. The event runs from Sept. 19 through Sept. 25.
To mark the occasion, Healio Primary Care listed 10 stories that discuss how physicians can maximize telehealth use:
Telehealth shift during COVID-19 pandemic shows capacity to safely deliver cardiology care
As clinicians around the world rapidly transitioned from in-person to telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, cardiologists worked to find new ways to support patients with cardiovascular disorders who rely on data-driven care and multiple in-person visits, as well as patients with other chronic conditions that require close follow-up. Read more.
Telehealth requires effective strategies for short teaching sessions
Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES, FADCES, spoke with Lorena Drago, RDN, MS, CDN, CDCES, regarding tips for successful short telehealth sessions for diabetes education. Read more.
Speaker: Use telehealth to redesign health care with the patient in mind
COVID-19 led to increased implementation and use of telehealth; however, with conditions improving, Eric Wallace, MD, asked the question: What about telehealth do we keep and how can we redesign health care with the patient in mind? Read more.
Antibiotic prescription trends shift due to telehealth during COVID-19
Fewer clinic visits resulted in a reduction in antibiotic prescriptions for acute respiratory infections, UTIs and skin and soft tissue infections in 2020 vs. 2019, according to findings presented virtually at the SHEA Spring Conference. Read more.
Physical therapy supervised via telehealth successfully reduced patellofemoral pain
A therapeutic physical exercise program monitored by a physical therapist via telehealth alleviated pain in patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to published results. Read more.
Physicians leverage telehealth as a learning tool in mental health care
Family medicine residents sharpened their skills in behavioral health care by working with other medical professionals via telehealth, researchers wrote. Read more.
Physicians ‘have to be mindful’ of cybersecurity risks in telehealth
A panel of experts assembled by the American Telemedicine Association discussed the various security risks stemming from telehealth, how cybersecurity impacts clinical care and how to help ensure the security of telehealth. Read more.
‘Simple reminder’ reduces telehealth no-shows among older adults by 33%
New research suggests a letter may be all that it takes to lower the number of telehealth no-shows among older patients, even during a pandemic. Read more.
Telehealth offers comparable visit satisfaction for patients with alopecia
Telehealth visits provided similar patient-reported satisfaction compared with in-person visits for hair disorders, according to a survey study. Read more.
Telehealth provides expanded access to gender-affirming care for youths
Telehealth visits for gender-affirming care in minors rapidly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and may be able to expand access to care in the future, according to data from two studies published in Transgender Health. Read more.
American Telemedicine Association. American Telemedicine Association announces plans for first Annual Telehealth Awareness Week – September 19-25, 2021. https://www.americantelemed.org/press-releases/taw/. Accessed Sept. 7, 2021.
FAIR Health. Telehealth claim lines increase 2,938 percent nationally when comparing November 2019 to November 2020. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/telehealth-claim-lines-increase-2-938-percent-nationally-when-comparing-november-2019-to-november-2020--301220192.html. Accessed Sept. 7, 2021.
FAIR Health. https://www.fairhealthconsumer.org/#about, Accessed Sept. 7, 2021.
FAIR Health. Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. May 2020. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media2.fairhealth.org/infographic/telehealth/may-2020-national-telehealth.pdf. Accessed Sept. 7, 2021.
FAIR Health, Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. May 2021. https://s3.amazonaws.com/media2.fairhealth.org/infographic/telehealth/may-2021-national-telehealth.pdf.