Telehealth Utilization Declined Nine Percent Nationally in February 2022, according to FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker
NEW YORK - After two months in the top five telehealth diagnoses nationally and in every US census region, COVID-19 fell out of that ranking nationally and in every region in February 2022, according to FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. The change coincided with a sharp decline in new cases of COVID-19, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following the January peak of the wave of cases related to the Omicron variant. The FAIR Health data represent the privately insured population, including Medicare Advantage and excluding Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid.
Following three months of growth, telehealth utilization declined 9.3 percent nationally in February 2022, from 5.4 percent of all medical claim lines1 in January 2022 to 4.9 percent in February. Telehealth utilization also decreased in February in every US census region (Midwest, Northeast, South and West), with the greatest decrease (11.8 percent) in the Northeast. The drop in telehealth utilization was likely due to diminishing concerns about COVID-19 infection, which led more patients to return to in-person healthcare services.
As COVID-19 dropped out of the top five telehealth diagnoses across the country in February 2022, other diagnoses rose to take its place. Substance use disorders reentered the top five nationally and in the Midwest and moved from fourth place to second place in the Northeast. Developmental disorders reentered the top five in the South. Endocrine and metabolic disorders reentered the top five in the West and joint/soft tissue diseases and issues moved from fourth place to second place. Mental health conditions continued to be the leading diagnosis everywhere, rising in percentage share of telehealth claim lines nationally and in every region. This increase may have been due in part to patients returning to in-person venues of care for diagnoses other than mental health conditions.
Specialties and Procedure Codes
In February 2022, social worker became the most common specialty used for telehealth in the West, a position it continued to hold in every other region and nationally. Because the most common telehealth service social workers provide is psychotherapy, this trend was likely attributable to the increasing share of mental health conditions among telehealth diagnoses.
Similarly, in February 2022, the leading procedure code nationally and in every region, CPT®2 90837, one hour of psychotherapy, rose everywhere in its percentage share of telehealth claim lines.
For February 2022, the Telehealth Cost Corner spotlighted the cost of CPT 90791, psychiatric diagnostic evaluation. Nationally, the median charge amount for this service when rendered via telehealth was $202.94, and the median allowed amount was $120.89.3
Launched in May 2020 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. Each infographic shows month-to-month changes in telehealth's percentage of medical claim lines, as well as that month's top five telehealth procedure codes, diagnoses and specialties. Additionally, in the Telehealth Cost Corner, a specific telehealth procedure code is featured, with its median charge amount and median allowed amount.
FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd stated: "As the COVID-19 pandemic and telehealth utilization continue to evolve, FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker serves as a window into that evolution. This is one of the many ways we pursue our healthcare transparency mission."
For the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, click here.
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About FAIR Health
FAIR Health is a national, independent nonprofit organization that qualifies as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. It is dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information through data products, consumer resources and health systems research support. FAIR Health possesses the nation's largest collection of private healthcare claims data, which includes over 36 billion claim records and is growing at a rate of over 2 billion claim records a year. FAIR Health licenses its privately billed data and data products—including benchmark modules, data visualizations, custom analytics and market indices—to commercial insurers and self-insurers, employers, providers, hospitals and healthcare systems, government agencies, researchers and others. Certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a national Qualified Entity, FAIR Health also receives data representing the experience of all individuals enrolled in traditional Medicare Parts A, B and D; FAIR Health includes among the private claims data in its database, data on Medicare Advantage enrollees. FAIR Health can produce insightful analytic reports and data products based on combined Medicare and commercial claims data for government, providers, payors and other authorized users. FAIR Health's systems for processing and storing protected health information have earned HITRUST CSF certification and achieved AICPA SOC 2 compliance by meeting the rigorous data security requirements of these standards. As a testament to the reliability and objectivity of FAIR Health data, the data have been incorporated in statutes and regulations around the country and designated as the official, neutral data source for a variety of state health programs, including workers' compensation and personal injury protection (PIP) programs. FAIR Health data serve as an official reference point in support of certain state balance billing laws that protect consumers against bills for surprise out-of-network and emergency services. FAIR Health also uses its database to power a free consumer website available in English and Spanish, which enables consumers to estimate and plan for their healthcare expenditures and offers a rich educational platform on health insurance. An English/Spanish mobile app offers the same educational platform in a concise format and links to the cost estimation tools. The website has been honored by the White House Summit on Smart Disclosure, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), URAC, the eHealthcare Leadership Awards, appPicker, Employee Benefit News and Kiplinger's Personal Finance. FAIR Health also is named a top resource for patients in Dr. Marty Makary's book The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care—and How to Fix It and Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal's book An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back. For more information on FAIR Health, visit fairhealth.org.