What You Should Know:
– After two months in the top five telehealth diagnoses nationally and in every US census region, COVID-19 fell out of that ranking nationally and in every region in February 2022, according to FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker.
– The change coincided with a sharp decline in new cases of COVID-19, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following the January peak of the wave of cases related to the Omicron variant. The FAIR Health data represent the privately insured population, including Medicare Advantage and excluding Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid.
Telehealth Utilization Decline
Following three months of growth, telehealth utilization declined 9.3 percent nationally in February 2022, from 5.4 percent of all medical claim lines1 in January 2022 to 4.9 percent in February. Telehealth utilization also decreased in February in every US census region (Midwest, Northeast, South and West), with the greatest decrease (11.8 percent) in the Northeast. The drop in telehealth utilization was likely due to diminishing concerns about COVID-19 infection, which led more patients to return to in-person healthcare services.
– As COVID-19 dropped out of the top five telehealth diagnoses across the country in February 2022, other diagnoses rose to take its place. Substance use disorders reentered the top five nationally and in the Midwest and moved from fourth place to second place in the Northeast.
– Developmental disorders reentered the top five in the South. Endocrine and metabolic disorders reentered the top five in the West and joint/soft tissue diseases and issues moved from fourth place to second place.
– Mental health conditions continued to be the leading diagnosis everywhere, rising in percentage share of telehealth claim lines nationally and in every region. This increase may have been due in part to patients returning to in-person venues of care for diagnoses other than mental health conditions.
Specialties and Procedure Codes
– In February 2022, social worker became the most common specialty used for telehealth in the West, a position it continued to hold in every other region and nationally. Because the most common telehealth service social workers provide is psychotherapy, this trend was likely attributable to the increasing share of mental health conditions among telehealth diagnoses.
– Similarly, in February 2022, the leading procedure code nationally and in every region, CPT®2 90837, one hour of psychotherapy, rose everywhere in its percentage share of telehealth claim lines.
– For February 2022, the Telehealth Cost Corner spotlighted the cost of CPT 90791, psychiatric diagnostic evaluation. Nationally, the median charge amount for this service when rendered via telehealth was $202.94, and the median allowed amount was $120.89.3