MHealth Intelligence reports on a White Paper done by FAIR Health…
The report showed that from 2011 to 2016, telehealth service use increased substantially, especially in rural areas (960 percent). In comparison, telehealth use grew by 629 percent in urban areas, and by 643 percent nationally.
However, more recently urban usage has grown to match and even surpass rural usage. Between 2015 and 2016, urban areas saw a jump from just over 25 percent to over 45 percent, while rural growth increased from 35 percent in 2015 to just over 40 percent in 2016.
In 2016, the states with the greatest number of claims lines with telehealth usage were Massachusetts, California, Texas, South Dakota and Minnesota.
What are the biggest reasons for telehealth appointments?
The results also showed that patients overwhelmingly use telehealth for mental health reasons. Mental health accounted for 31 percent of the telehealth claim line distribution in 2016. Acute respiratory infections were the second most common use for telehealth, accounting for 15 percent of claim line distribution.
These findings make sense when considering past research on mental healthcare in the US, which shows that the growth of the patient population has outpaced the number of available psychiatrists, particularly in rural areas.
The article outlines the importance of the research in terms of how hospitals and medical schools can adapt to make better use of telehealth. I might add that it’s important for infrastructure planning too.