The Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC), using data from the Colorado All Payer Claims Database (CO APCD) updated the Telehealth Services Utilization analysis available on civhc.org. The updated tool shows how use of telehealth in the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly doubled when compared to the twenty-five months prior. Results indicate Coloradans shifted towards using telehealth services as a source of care for many elective service conditions.
The analysis provides information related to both use of telehealth services as well as payments made to providers for these services. In March and April 2020, there were 712,000 telehealth visits compared to 420,000 between January 2018 to February 2020, and payments for visits increased over two-fold from $32M to $66M. This shift is driven in part by a telehealth expansion executive order, which loosened statutory restrictions enabling more telehealth services and payments, and by stay at home orders enacted during the same time period aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
Visits for mental health conditions continue to be the most frequent documented diagnosis for telehealth services and increased from 33% to 49% of all visits from the pre-COVID time period. Utilization by patients with diagnoses of respiratory conditions dropped from 12% overall to 7% but remains the second most frequent diagnosis, while musculoskeletal (7%), and nervous system conditions (6%) are now included in the top four diagnoses for telehealth visits. Primary care providers historically provided the most telehealth services, but behavioral health providers provided the most services (35%) in March and April 2020.
Types of telehealth services also changed dramatically. Remote office visits with established patients surpassed telephone consultations as the most utilized of telehealth service type and increased by 4500% between February 2020 and April 2020. Psychiatric Services and Procedures is now the second most utilized service type and increased over 3300% during the same time period. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation increased over 24,000% and is ranked fourth out of the top most commonly accessed service types behind Telephone Services which increased over 500%.
Across Colorado, Alamosa remains the county with the highest overall telehealth utilization rate. However, urban counties utilized telehealth services similar to and sometimes more often than their rural counterparts in March and April 2020, which was not as common prior to the onset COVID-19 pandemic.
CIVHC plans to continue to update the telehealth analysis frequently to enable evaluation of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on use of telehealth services and patient outcomes long-term.
- View the interactive report
- Read more on telehealth in Colorado from the Colorado Health Institute
- More COVID-19 related analyses from CIVHC: