Telemedicine in Non-Hospital Settings Soars by Nearly 1,400%

More Patients Are Using Telemedicine for Common Medical Conditions and Behavioral Health Services

Telemedicine is on the rise in non-hospital settings, according to a new whitepaper from the nonprofit organization, FAIR Health. The report is based on the nation’s largest collection of telemedicine claims data, including more than 29 billion private healthcare claim records, and indicates that non-hospital telemedicine usage grew by 1,393% from 2014 to 2018. 

This is a major victory for the telemedicine community as more patients become aware of the benefits of telehealth. Increasing service availability and insurance reimbursement are helping more patients make use of these services.

How Patients Are Using Telemedicine in Non-Hospital Settings

A recent study commissioned by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a non-profit health insurance company headquartered in Rochester, New York, and conducted by One Research shows how more patients are using telehealth services across upstate New York. The study surveyed 2,004 patients throughout the region and more than half said they knew about telemedicine, 5% said they have used telemedicine services, and of those that have used these services, 93% said they were satisfied with their experience. 43% said they would consider using telemedicine in the future. 

Among those surveyed in the study, 4% said telemedicine helped them avoid going to the emergency room by consulting with a physician beforehand. If these services had not been available, 55% said they would have gone to an urgent care center, 26% would have seen their primary care physician, and 10% said they would have delayed getting care altogether. The rest didn’t specify what they would’ve done next without access to telemedicine services. 

According to Excellus, 78% of patients who used telemedicine sought treatment for standard medical conditions, with heart disease, hypertension, skin disorders, diabetes, and pneumonia among the most common. 

22% of telemedicine visits were for behavioral health services, including anxiety, depression, childhood or adolescence disorders, ADD, and bipolar disorder. In fact, psychiatric care is one of the fastest-growing sectors within the telehealth industry. 

How Telemedicine Usage Continues to Rise Across the Board

Non-hospital-based provider-to-patient telehealth grew at a faster rate than any other type of telehealth from 2014 to 2018, but other types of telehealth usage grew exponentially as well, including:

  • Physician-to-patient–ED/inpatient telehealth usage grew by 397%.
  • Discharge-related provider-to-patient telehealth usage grew by 240%.
  • Provider-to-provider telemedicine usage grew by 131%.

During the 2014 to 2018 time period, non-hospital-based provider-to-patient telemedicine usage increased 1,227% in urban areas and 897% in rural areas, which shows that all types of patients, not just those living in rural areas, can benefit from these services. 

As we can see from the results of these surveys, telemedicine usage continues to rise across all types of healthcare. Without these services, many patients would be forced to go to the emergency room, an urgent care center, or forgo care altogether, which can have devastating consequences. 

Thanks to telehealth, patients can quickly consult with a physician about a condition or health-related concern before choosing whether to make an in-person appointment. This can help patients save money over the long-term as they avoid unnecessary medical bills. The healthcare industry can also save money by addressing patients’ concerns remotely. While telemedicine can’t be used for all types of conditions, it can transform the way patients think about healthcare by giving them fast access to a range of healthcare providers. Visit InTouch Health for more information about the benefits of telehealth.