News: Telehealth to make up 1 of 5 visits in 2020, report says

CDI Strategies - Volume 14, Issue 44

According to a report published by Doximity, the volume and financial value of telehealth visits will continue to increase significantly in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HealthLeaders Media reported.

The pandemic has spurred widespread adoption of telehealth along several fronts, primarily over concern about the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings. Telehealth visits for nonemergency care also have been shown to be efficient and effective from both the healthcare provider and patient perspectives.

The new report is based on three resources: a randomized survey of 2,000 American adults to collect patient data, Doximity network data to reflect "physician adoption insights," and data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and commercial insurance claims to gauge the telehealth market.

The report features three data points on the telehealth market:

  • About 20% of all medical visits will be conducted via telehealth this year
  • The financial value of telehealth visits this year will be more than $29.3 billion 
  • The financial value of telehealth visits is projected to be $106 billion by 2023

The report also includes three data points on physician adoption of telehealth:

  • In a telehealth report Doximity published last year, the number of physicians who self-reported telehealth as a skill increased annually by 20% between 2015 and 2018. From 2019 to 2020, the number of physicians reporting telehealth as a skill increased 38%.
  • Female physicians are adopting telehealth at a higher rate than their male colleagues. In last year's Doximity telehealth report, female physicians engaged in telehealth job ads at a rate 10% higher than male physicians. This year's report found female physicians are using telehealth at a rate 24% higher than male physicians.
  • This year, the top two specialties using telehealth are endocrinology and rheumatology. "Treating long-term chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis require frequent patient visits, but they don’t always need to be in-person. For patients that require long-term care, telemedicine tools can reduce taxing trips to hospitals or clinics," the new report says.

HealthLeaders Media reported that the Doximity report includes several data points on patient utilization of telehealth as well:

  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 14% of Americans had participated in a telehealth visit at least once.
  • Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the number of Americans participating in at least one telehealth visit has increased 57%. The number of Americans with chronic conditions who have participated in a telehealth visit at least once has increased 77%.
  • Once the pandemic has passed, 23% of survey respondents report they plan to participate in telehealth visits.
  • Since the pandemic began, 27% of survey respondents report feeling more comfortable using telehealth.
  • More than a quarter of survey respondents reported feeling telehealth visits have the same or better quality compared to in-person doctor visits. More than half of survey respondents with chronic conditions reported telehealth visits have the same or better quality compared to in-person doctor visits.
  • Nearly half of survey respondents reported cell phones are the preferred device for conducting telehealth visits, with 39% preferring laptops.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in HealthLeaders Media. To read more about CDI and telehealth, click here.

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