According to a new report, telehealth usage grew more than 7,000% during the first year of the pandemic. FAIR Health’s annual report studies health care indicators, prices and utilization trends. With the latest data, researchers tracked changes from 2015 to 2020 and noticed significant health care shifts.
The biggest changes occurred during the first year of the pandemic. In 2020, the utilization of traditional health care services dropped, while new models (e.g., telehealth) increased dramatically. Telehealth utilization increased 41,919% from 2015 to 2020—and national growth was 7,060% from 2019 to 2020. Use of other places for health care services likely decreased due to pandemic-related restrictions on elective services and many people not seeking in-person care due to the risk of contacting COVID-19.
“This year’s edition … opens a window on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s health care system. We hope that this new edition … continues to inform decision-making throughout the health care sector by payors, providers, government officials, policymakers, academic researchers and others." -FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd
In line with other industry research, mental health services were also a driving force for the increased use of telehealth in the United States. Mental health conditions made up 44% of all claims. In 2020, exposure to communicable diseases joined the most common diagnostic categories in retail clinics, urgent care centers and telehealth. That category was primarily associated with testing and/or treatment for COVID-19 after exposure.
The pandemic has undoubtedly changed health care delivery in the United States and is likely to have a long-term effect on how health care services are offered, priced and utilized.
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