Telehealth Data Shows Increased Demand for Virtual Behavioral Care
The pandemic and subsequent economic downturn have had profound psychological impacts on people across the country, resulting in an explosion in telehealth demand and utilization rates. Driven by provider shortages, shifting regulations, cost savings and convenience, the telehealth market was growing prior to the pandemic. Now, the growth is exponential.
The COVID pandemic has accelerated usage rates across the United States in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and increase mental health service access. FairHealth, an independent nonprofit that collects and manages the country’s largest database of insurance claims, recently updated its Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. It includes 2019 vs 2020 monthly comparisons for telehealth claim volume, urban vs rural usage, and top procedure codes and diagnoses. The findings are eye-opening:
- Overall medical claim lines related to Telehealth increased from 0.16% to 5.07%, a 2,980% increase.
- Telehealth claims in urban locations increased from 0.17% to 5.27%.
- Similarly, rural usage increased from 0.07% to 3.03%.
- Psychotherapy codes CPT 90837 (60-minute) and CPT 90834 (45-minute) (often referred to in the virtual manner as Telepsychiatry, Telebehavioral Health,Telemental Health, or Virtual Behavioral Health) were ranked second and fourth, respectively, in the top 5 procedural codes. Remarkably, these same codes were not even in the top 5 just a year prior.
- Mental health conditions were the top diagnoses in September 2019, accounting for 34.35% of telehealth claims. This number has increased to 51.83% in 2020.
The increased demand for mental health services are also reflected in a recent CDC survey. Approximately 40% of US adults reported adverse mental health conditions during COVID, citing symptoms of anxiety disorder, trauma, new or increased substance abuse, or thoughts of suicide. For adverse mental health conditions, Telehealth is serving a major role in expanding behavioral health services to broader populations by removing barriers in accessing care. Traditional stigmas associated with seeking mental health care are reduced, and clinical provider shortage issues are mitigated.
With Telehealth, it seems, the outlier is moving towards the norm.
The Transact Capital Healthcare Team and its Advisory Board represent owners looking to scale or exit their healthcare business. Contact Mike Gaetano at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about what Transact Capital can do for your healthcare business.
Written by Mike Gaetano, member of the Transact Capital Healthcare Team; Co-authored by Bryan Arkwright, Healthcare Advisor to Transact Capital Partners and Chief Research Officer to Cromford Health