Telehealth leveling off at 20% or less of all appointments: 5 things to know 

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More than a year after most hospitals and health systems ended their COVID-19 shutdowns of nonemergency care, the use of telehealth for medical appointments is settling in near 20 percent or less of all visits, the Center for Connected Medicine reported Sept. 7. 

The center is jointly operated by Pittsburgh-based UPMC and Nokia. 

For the report, the center partnered with KLAS Research in May and June to survey nearly 100 hospital and health system technology managers, informatics experts and clinicians about their telehealth plans and usage. Participants were surveyed before the latest COVID-19 surge, driven by the delta variant. 

Five things to know: 

1. More than 80 percent of survey participants said one-fifth or less of their organizations' appointments are being done virtually. The small number of hospitals and health systems that reported 30 percent or more patient volumes as virtual said they expected the number to drop once the pandemic diminishes. 

2. Hospitals and health systems are planning to expand telehealth services to manage patient populations while keeping costs down, the participants said, citing chronic care management, behavioral health and urgent care as the top three services lines for growth. 

3. Ninety-two percent of participants said their organizations are measuring and analyzing use of telehealth by patients. 

4. About 25 percent of respondents said they are measuring health outcomes for patients using telehealth, up from 12 percent of participants who said they were doing so in fall 2020. 

5. Patients' access to technology and broadband as well as uncertainty about reimbursement were cited as hospitals and health systems' top challenges to advancing virtual care.

 

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