The Telehealth Services Analysis provides stakeholders with benchmark information to understand telehealth services prior to the onset of COVID-19, and will be updated regularly to help stakeholders evaluate changes in the health care system as a result of telehealth use before, during and after the pandemic.
- Utilization and Cost:
- Use of telehealth services was rising before the onset of the novel coronavirus outbreak, but has increased dramatically as a result of the pandemic.
- In only two months (March and April 2020), there were 712,000 visits, which is nearly double the number of telehealth visits that occurred during the entire two-year period from January 2018 to February 2020 (420,000).
- Payments for visits in March and April 2020 ($66M) were double the amount of payments for the January 2018 to February 2020 timeframe ($33M).
- Payer Type:
- In March and April 2020, Medicaid patients used telehealth services the most (395,000 visits, 55% of total visits), followed by commercially insured (201,000 visits, 28% of total visits), and Medicare Advantage patients (116,000 visits, 16% of total visits).
- Mental health conditions remain the most frequent diagnosis for telehealth services and increased from 33% to 49% of all visits from the pre-COVID time period.
- Respiratory conditions dropped from 12% to 7% but remain the second most frequent diagnosis, and musculoskeletal (7%) and nervous system conditions (6%) are now included in the top four diagnoses for telehealth visits.
- Provider Type:
- Primary care providers historically provided the most telehealth services, but behavioral health providers provided the most services (35%) in March and April 2020.
- Service Types:
- Before March 2020, follow-up telephone consultations were the most frequent telehealth service type, but Established Patient Office Visits increased by 4500% from February to April 2020 and is now the most utilized service.
- Psychiatric Services and Procedures is now the second most utilized service type and increased over 3300% between February and April 2020.
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation increased over 24,000% from February to April 2020 and is ranked fourth out of the top most commonly accessed service types behind follow-up Telephone Consultation Services which increased over 500%.
- Geographic Variation:
- Alamosa county remains the county with the highest overall telehealth utilization rate, however, urban counties tended to utilize telehealth services more often in March and April 2020 than they had prior to the pandemic.
- When selecting “All” payers, data for 2020 should be viewed with caution because:
- Medicare Fee-for-Service is only available through December 31, 2019 and is not included in 2020 data, and
- Commercial and Medicaid claims for March and April 2020 reflect approximately 95% of services provided. Claims for some services incurred during these months have not yet been submitted to the CO APCD.
- View the full methodology document for more details on telehealth and telemedicine service categories provided.