NEW YORK, March 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — For the second consecutive month, national telehealth usage, measured as a percentage of all medical claim lines, increased in December 2021according to FAIR Health monthly regional telehealth follow-up.1 Telehealth usage increased 11.4% nationally, from 4.4% of all medical claim lines in November to 4.9% in December. Telehealth use also increased in December across all U.S. census regions (Midwest, Northeast, South, and West), with the largest increase (18.2%) in the South. Data represent the privately insured population, including Medicare Advantage and excluding Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid.
COVID-19 and changes in diagnostic rankings
December increases in telehealth use coincided with the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly transmissible variant of Omicron. Data from FAIR Health shows that COVID-19, which in November was among the top five telehealth diagnoses nationally and in the Midwest and Northeast, continued to hold that status in December while also joining the top five. telehealth diagnostics in the South and West. Nationally, from November to December, COVID-19 jumped from fifth to third place among telehealth diagnoses; in the northeast, the epicenter of Omicron’s December surge, COVID-19 jumped from fifth to second place.
In December, other diagnoses changed in their percentage share of telehealth request lines, their ranking among telehealth diagnoses, or both. Mental health problems remained the number one diagnosis in the country and in all regions, but declined everywhere by percentage. In the South, mental health issues fell to less than 50% of telehealth request lines (43.4%), the only region where this was the case. Acute respiratory illnesses and infections increased everywhere as a percentage of telehealth request lines. Hypertension joined the top five telehealth diagnoses in the South, and joint/soft tissue diseases and conditions joined that list in the Northeast.
Changes in the classification of procedure codes
In December, the procedural code for 60-minute psychotherapy, CPT®] 90837, remained in first place among telehealth procedure codes nationally and in all regions except the South, where it rose from first to third place. However, its percentage share has declined nationally and regionally. This was part of a general trend in December towards lower use of psychiatric procedure codes and higher use of assessment and management (E&M) codes. For example, in the Midwest, CPT 99212, an E&M code (established outpatient visit of 10 to 19 minutes), supplanted CPT 90833, a psychiatric code (psychotherapy of 30 minutes performed with E&M visit), in fifth place among codes. telehealth procedure. Additionally, in the national rankings, CPT 99441, a telehealth audio visit (5-10 minute doctor-to-patient telephone service) supplanted CPT 90833 in fifth place.
About Monthly Regional Telehealth Tracking
Launched in May 2020 As a free service, Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker uses FAIR Health data to track month-to-month telehealth progress. An interactive map of the four US census regions allows the user to view a telehealth infographic for a specific month across the country or in individual regions. Each infographic shows the month-over-month changes in telehealth request line volume, the top five telehealth procedure codes and the top five telehealth diagnoses (or diagnosis categories), as well as the top five diagnoses granular of the month in the most common diagnostic category.
President FAIR Health Robin Gelburd said: “As the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of telehealth continue to evolve, FAIR Health’s Monthly Regional Telehealth Tracker serves as a window into this evolution. It is one of many ways which we pursue our mission of transparency in healthcare.”
For the Monthly Regional Telehealth Tracker, click here.
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About FAIR Health
FAIR Health is an independent, national, nonprofit organization that qualifies as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. It is dedicated to the transparency of health care costs and health insurance information through data products, consumer resources, and support for health systems research. FAIR Health has the largest collection of private healthcare claims data in the nation, which includes over 36 billion claim records and is growing at a rate of over 2 billion claim records per year. FAIR Health licenses its privately billed data and data products, including reference modules, data visualizations, custom analytics, and market indices, to commercial insurers and self-insurers, employers, providers, hospitals, and health systems, government agencies, researchers and others. Certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a National Qualified Entity, FAIR Health also receives data representing the experience of all enrollees in traditional Medicare Parts A, B, and D; FAIR Health includes among the private claims data in its database, data on Medicare Advantage enrollees. FAIR Health can produce insightful analytical reports and data products based on combined Medicare and commercial claims data for government, providers, payers and other authorized users. FAIR Health’s systems for processing and storing protected health information have earned HITRUST CSF certification and achieved AICPA SOC 2 compliance by meeting the rigorous data security requirements of these standards. A testament to the reliability and objectivity of FAIR Health’s data, the data has been incorporated into the nation’s laws and regulations and designated as an official, neutral data source for a variety of state health programs, including workers’ compensation and injury protection. (PIP). FAIR Health data serves as an official benchmark in support of certain state balance billing laws that protect consumers from surprise out-of-network and emergency service bills. FAIR Health also uses its database to power a free consumer website available in English and Spanish, which allows consumers to estimate and plan their health expenses and offers a rich educational platform on health insurance. An English/Spanish mobile app offers the same educational platform in a concise format and links to costing tools. The website has been honored by the White House Summit on Smart Disclosure, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), URAC, eHealthcare Leadership Awards, appPicker, Employee Benefits News and Kiplinger’s personal finances. FAIR Health is also named one of the top resources for patients in Dr. Marty Makary’s book The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care and How to Fix It and Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal’s book An American Disease: How Health Care Became Big Business and How You Can Reclaim It. For more information about FAIR Health, visit fairhealth.org.
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1 A claim line is an individual service or procedure listed on an insurance claim.
2 CPT © 2021 American Medical Association (AMA). All rights reserved.
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