News: UnitedHealthcare saw a 2,500% increase in telehealth over pre-pandemic levels

CDI Strategies - Volume 16, Issue 17

UnitedHealthcare Inc. members logged more than 28 million virtual care visits in 2021, a 2,500% increase over pre-pandemic usage, the payer says.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic triggered an unprecedented spike in the number of virtual care visits, we are seeing that telehealth has staying power even as many people have returned to in-person appointments,” UnitedHealthcare CMO Donna O'Shea, MD, told HealthLeaders.

In addition to the overall increase, the payer’s data show that:

  • Local providers delivered 95% of those virtual care visits
  • Half (50%) of virtual visits—14 million—were for behavioral health, and 63% of all behavioral health visits were done virtually, up from 1.5% pre-pandemic
  • The share of virtual care users aged 25 to 44 grew from 36% in 2020 to 38%
  • The share of virtual care users among women grew from 62% in 2020 to 64%

“Virtual care has expanded from delivering care to people who are sick to also focusing on preventing and detecting disease and helping people manage chronic conditions,” O’Shea told HealthLeaders. “Through better insights and digital tools, we are seeing virtual care enable the ability to flag gaps in care, prevent complications and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations – all of which can help improve health outcomes and curb costs.”

Editor’s note: To read HealthLeaders’ full conversation with O’Shea, click here. To read more telehealth news, click here

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