6 statistics on how commercially insured patients use telemedicine

Telemedicine use remains uncommon, despite more insurers offering coverage of the service, a study publishing JAMA Network reveals.

A team of researchers from Boston-based Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine analyzed claims data from 2005-17 for the study, using information from OptumLabs Data Warehouse, a deidentified claims database for privately insured and Medicare Advantage members enrolled in a large private health plan. Telemedicine visits were grouped into three categories: (1)  telemental health, (2) primary care telemedicine and (3) other telemedicine, such as specialty visits.

In total, the researchers analyzed 383,565 telemedicine visits by 217,851 patients.

Here are six study findings:

1. The average age of patients using telemedicine services was 38.3 years old.

2. Women were slightly more likely than men to use the services, with female patients comprising 63 percent of those using telemedicine.

3. The majority of telemedicine users (83.3 percent) resided in urban areas.

4. Most telemedicine visits during the period fell into the category of telemental health (53 percent) or primary care (39 percent). By 2017, the most frequently used telemedicine service was primary care.

5. Visits for primary care telemedicine grew 36 percent annually before 2016. In 2017, the researchers identified 136,366 telemedicine visits.

6. Visits for telemental health grew 56 percent annually to 57,095 visits in 2017.

To access the complete study, click here.

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