COVID-19 dropped of a list of the top five diagnoses seen in telehealth nationally in September, even as virtual care use began rising.
The virus did not comprise a significant percentage of claims in most U.S. regions, FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker found.
COVID-19 accounted for between 1.5% and 3.5% of claims in every region except the Northeast in August.
Mental health conditions have continued to dominate the diagnoses treated via telehealth visits, amounting to between 50% and nearly 70% of all virtual care claims. From August to September 2021, mental health conditions increased in percentage share of all telehealth claims nationally.
This was a change from July and August, when mental health conditions declined as a percentage of telehealth diagnoses.
FAIR Health has used data from privately insured populations, including Medicare Advantage, to gauge how telehealth is evolving each month since May 2020. Data also show that nationwide telehealth utilization, as a percentage of all medical claims, grew by around 2% in August and September, following several months of declined use.
Overall telehealth usage rose to 4.4% of all medical claims in September, as COVID-19 variants and surges slowly began driving patients away from in-person visits. Though virtual care appointments increased in the Midwest and West, they decreased in the Northeast and there was no change in their use in the South.
Nationally, developmental disorders climbed from fourth to third place in the top telehealth diagnoses, while substance use disorders became part of the top five ranking in September.
Of the top five telehealth procedure codes ranked by utilization, 30 minute psychotherapy visits, performed with evaluation and management, took fifth place nationwide in September. This procedure displaced talking with one’s physician over the phone for five to ten minutes.