OPYS Telehealth Blog Series December 2021 Issue No. 1
Telehealth is here to stay. There, I said it. While many people may not have heard the term ‘telemedicine’ prior to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, the terms ‘virtual health’, ‘virtual visit’, and ‘video visit’ are now commonly used to describe a telehealth visit; also known as a live, interactive two-way audio and video call. If you ask someone who has been in the telehealth for many years, they say that the pandemic caused telehealth policies to move forward 20 years overnight. Let’s look at some recent telehealth claim lines data on this topic.
The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) published an article on September 10, 2021, that referenced data from FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. According to the AJMC article, telehealth utilization in the United States fell 10% from May 2021 to June 2021. That may sound like bad news for telehealth, but if you compare those statistics to pre-pandemic telehealth, by digging into the comparisons on FAIR Health’s website and compare January 2020 to January 2019, the national percentages grew from 0.17% to 0.24%. For May 2021 claim lines to be at 5.0% and June 2021 claim lines to be at 4.5%, I still consider that a win for telehealth.
Now, I certainly understand that telehealth claim lines have fallen greatly from the drastically high percentages we saw in April and May of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, where nearly 75% of claims were conducted via telehealth. In the July 9, 2021, article from McKinsey & Company, you’ll find that the February 2021 percentage of telehealth claim volumes was 38 times greater than pre-pandemic levels. And according to the December 3, 2021, article from Modern Healthcare, Medicare saw telehealth use grow more than 6,000% during the pandemic. That’s a 63-fold from 2019 to 2020, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Going back to the most recent data national data available from FAIR Health, their website shows that the telehealth claim lines bottomed out at 4.2% in July 2021 and have started picking back up; August 2021 was at 4.3%, and September 2021 was at 4.4%. Some of you may be wondering what any of this has to do with the physician services offered by OPYS.
Based on projections from all the data referenced above, OPYS’s Executive Team has expanded to include Becky Sanders, our Executive Director of Telehealth Services, who is now leading OPYS’s new telehealth division. But wait, OPYS’s core services are focused on the provisioning of physician services for rural emergency room departments. How does telehealth fit into that realm?
We are so glad you’ve asked!
During the height of the pandemic, Health and Human Services (HHS) created a website for telehealth information and resources. This website, includes a specific page and related resources for integrating telehealth into emergency departments. This includes tele-triage, tele-emergency care, virtual rounds, e-consults, and telehealth for follow-up care.
About the Author: Becky Sanders, MBA
Becky Sanders, Executive Director of Telehealth Services for OPYS Physician Services. Becky comes to OPYS with over nearly 15 years’ experience in rural healthcare and telehealth. She holds a master’s in business administration, with a focus on healthcare administration, as well as a LEAN Healthcare Blackbelt. Expect to hear more from Becky as she begins attending and presenting at various rural healthcare conferences throughout OPYS’s target markets. This includes the states of Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Washington, California, New York, and Florida. You can follow OPYS and Beckyon our LinkedIn accounts.