October’s FAIR Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker has revealed that despite minor variability in several US regions, national telehealth use remained largely consistent in August. FAIR Health tracks several parameters, such as claim lines, procedure codes, and diagnostic categories to evaluate monthly variations in telehealth usage. Medicaid and Medicare Fee-for-Service recipients are not included in the tracker’s monitoring of privately insured individuals, which includes Medicare Advantage plan enrollees.
FAIR Health found that the use of telehealth has continued to be a common method of providing treatment despite the reduction in limits on in-person care brought on by the relaxation of several COVID-19 policies. However, one state had a more notable increase in telehealth usage at the regional level. Telehealth usage climbed by 4.7 percent in the South. The West saw a 1.4 percent decline in telehealth utilization, while the Midwest and Northeast saw no change. The COVID-19 diagnosis was among the top five telehealth diagnoses in the Southern and Western areas. Notably, the disease dropped from second to third position overall between July and August. On the list of telehealth diagnoses in the Midwest, Northeast, and nationwide, COVID-19 continued to place second. Additionally, the tracker also reported that COVID-19’s share of telehealth claim lines decreased by 1 to 2 percent across all lists, both nationwide and in all regions.
Furthermore, the data demonstrated several changes to the top five telehealth diagnoses in the South and Western regions. In the south, skin infections and related issues dropped off the list, while encounters for examinations entered the list for the first time since April. In the west, endocrine and metabolic disorder dropped off the list and acute respiratory diseases and infections joined the list. Overall, the speciality usage of telehealth changed very little in August. But in the West, primary care nonphysicians and psychologists switched positions, with psychologists coming in at number four on the list of the top five specialties using telehealth, while primary care nonphysicians placed at number five.
There were no modifications to telehealth procedure codes in August, either nationally or regionally. As it had for the previous six months, one-hour psychotherapy was ranked first nationwide. The data indicates that telehealth usage is leveling off compared to earlier in the year as utilization remained constant in July and August.