Telehealth usage outside of hospitals up almost 1,400%

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Over the last five years, non-hospital-based telemedicine between providers and patients has grown exponentially, according to a repository of more than 29 billion private healthcare claim records.

A new white paper from nonprofit organization FAIR Health, based on an analysis of the nation’s largest collection of such claims data, shows that from 2014 to 2018 use of non-hospital-based provider-to-patient telehealth grew 1,393 percent.

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“This study found that telehealth has been growing rapidly, and shows that the category fueling most of that growth is the type in which a provider renders services to a patient without relation to a hospital,” concludes the white paper.

For this category of telemedicine, FAIR Health provides the example of a patient at home who has not had a recent hospitalization and has a video chat with a provider to conduct a virtual examination of a skin rash.

“From 2014 to 2018, this type of telehealth increased in usage at a rate greater than that of any other type of telehealth, and of telehealth overall, and its share of the distribution of telehealth claim lines increased significantly,” the report suggests.

During that time period, claim lines for non-hospital-based provider-to-patient telemedicine increased 1,227 percent in urban areas, compared with 897 percent in rural areas.

While non-hospital-based provider-to-patient telehealth grew 1,393 percent, the telemedicine category with the next largest increase from 2014 to 2018 was physician to patient–ED/inpatient, which grew 397 percent. Discharge-related provider-to-patient telehealth followed at 240 percent growth and the lowest increase during that time period came from provider-to-provider telemedicine, with an increase in usage of 131 percent.

“FAIR Health has released an excellent study of an emerging type of care and its impact on the healthcare landscape,” said Martin Makary, MD, chief of Islet Transplant Surgery and professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “The analysis reveals aspects of telehealth that have not previously been studied in this level of detail.”

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