While current trends concerning telehealth signal a fairly even keeled type of year ahead, Fair Health’s national monthly tracker found that telehealth use in the U.S. actually surged an impressive 5.5% last December. Though up until that point its overall utilization had waned, an uptick in November teased what proved to be a significant year-end turnaround.
A strong presence of the flu as well as both residual and newly diagnosed COVID-19 caseloads amidst a volatile Winter season likely contributed to this statistic. COVID-19 was in fact the third most common telehealth diagnosis around this time, with acute respiratory diseases and infections placing second. Mental health visits accounted for the leading number of telehealth visits.
Regionally, December’s virtual visits gained 7.1% of momentum in the South, 5% in the Midwest, 3.3% in the Northeast while staying at a flat rate in the West. The tracker’s findings are based on private insurance patients’ claims data, including Medicare Advantage and excluding Medicare fee-for-service and Medicaid.
There was no fluctuation top provider specialties, as social workers retained their lead. That percentage did fall off a bit though, in every region barring the Northeast. Second place went to primary care physicians, which saw an increase as a percentage of claim lines nationally.