U.S. saw significant drop in telehealth use during 2021

Telehealth utilization declined by an average of 40.3% a month last year compared to 2020, an analysis published last month shows.

Telemedicine skyrocketed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic’s peaks starting in 2020, but patient declined as people returned to physician offices last year, according a review of commercial, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed care claims by the analytics firm Trilliant Health. The company compared telehealth utilization during the March through December 2020 period to 2021 to determine the trends.

Among the states, South Dakota saw the largest drop, with 60.2% less telehealth usage last year. Wyoming and Mississippi were close behind with declines of 59% and 57.9%. The smallest declines occurred in New Mexico, Oregon and Arizona.

Medicare fee-for-service telehealth visits increased from around 840,000 in 2019 to nearly 52.7 million in 2020, the Health and Human Services Department reported last month.

Healthcare professionals are continuing to push for expanded telehealth coverage as a way to make treatment more accessible, particularly for those with behavioral health conditions.

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