National telehealth utilization increased 7.3 percent in January 2023, from 5.5 percent of medical claim lines in December 2022 to 5.9 percent in January, according to FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. It was the third straight month of growth in national telehealth utilization, a trend that began in November. In January, telehealth utilization also increased in all four US census regions – the Midwest (9.5 percent), the West (9.5 percent), the South (6.7 percent) and the Northeast (3.2 percent). The data represent the privately insured population, including Medicare Advantage and excluding Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid.
With January 2023, FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker enters its fourth year of reporting on the evolution of telehealth from month to month.
Audio-Only Telehealth Usage
From December 2022 to January 2023, audio-only telehealth utilization decreased nationally and in every region. The largest decrease occurred in the South, where audio-only telehealth utilization fell 16.6 percent in rural areas, from 7.2 percent of telehealth claim lines in December to 6.0 percent in January, while falling 12.8 percent in urban areas, from 12.2 percent of telehealth claim lines in December to 10.6 percent in January. Utilization of audio-only telehealth services was generally higher in rural than urban areas, except in the South, where it was higher in urban areas, and in January in the West, where rural and urban usage were approximately equal at 3.0 percent of telehealth claim lines.
In January 2023, the number one diagnosis made via asynchronous telehealth – telehealth in which data are stored and forwarded (e.g., blood pressure or other cardiac-related readings transmitted electronically; A1c levels transmitted) – varied across regions. Nationally and in the South, it was acute respiratory diseases and infections. In the Northeast and Midwest, it was mental health conditions. In the West, it was encounter for screening.
Hypertension ranked second among the top five diagnoses via asynchronous telehealth nationally and in all regions except the South, where it ranked fourth.
From December 2022 to January 2023, among the top five telehealth diagnoses nationally, developmental disorders and joint/soft tissue diseases and issues switched positions, with the former rising from fifth to fourth place and the latter falling from fourth to fifth place.
In January, COVID-19, which had ranked third among the top five telehealth diagnoses nationally and in every region in December, fell out of the top five in the Midwest and the West and dropped to fourth place in the South. COVID-19 remained in third place nationally and in the Northeast.
For January 2023, the Telehealth Cost Corner spotlighted the cost of CPT®3 90834, 45-minute psychotherapy. Nationally, the median charge amount for this service when rendered via telehealth was $151.44, and the median allowed amount was $95.02.
For the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, if available on the FairHealth website.