Contributor: COVID-19 Ranked Among the Top 5 Telehealth Diagnoses Nationally in April 2022

COVID-19 was ranked in the top 5 diagnoses through telehealth in the Midwest, Northeast, and West regions as well as nationally in the month of April, coinciding with an increase in COVID-19 cases.

In April 2022, COVID-19 returned to the top 5 telehealth diagnoses nationally for the first time since January, according to FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker (FIGURE 1). COVID-19 also returned to the list of top 5 telehealth diagnoses in every US census region except the South; it had been off the list in all 4 regions (Midwest, Northeast, South, and West) since January.

The data represent the privately insured population, including Medicare Advantage and excluding Medicare fee-for-service and Medicaid. The reappearance of COVID-19 on the national and regional lists coincided with a rise in COVID-19 cases in April reported by the CDC.

FIGURE 1. Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, April 2022, United States

Also in April 2022, telehealth utilization, as measured by telehealth’s share of all medical claim lines, grew nationally and in every region after 2 months of decline, according to the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. National telehealth utilization increased 6.5%, from 4.6% of medical claim lines in March to 4.9% in April.

Regionally, the greatest increase was in the South, where telehealth utilization grew 11.8% in April. The rise in telehealth utilization may have been due to the growth in the reported number of COVID-19 cases, which may have led more patients to avoid in-person care.

Diagnoses

Various other diagnoses dropped off the lists as the share of COVID-19 diagnoses increased. Nationally, substance use disorders fell off the list; in the Midwest and Northeast, joint/soft tissue diseases and issues did so; and in the West, endocrine and metabolic disorders did so. In all regions and nationally, mental health conditions remained the top-ranking telehealth diagnosis.

Specialties

The rankings of the top 5 telehealth specialties did not change nationally or regionally in April 2022 when compared to March 2022, with social worker remaining the top-ranking telehealth specialty in all regions and nationally. But primary care physician increased its percentage share of telehealth claim lines by about 1% nationally and in the Northeast and South (FIGURE 2).

FIGURE 2. Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, April 2022, Northeast

Procedure Codes

In April 2022, the rankings of the top 5 telehealth procedure codes did not change nationally or in any region when compared to the prior 2 months. The number 1 telehealth procedure code nationally and in every region remained CPT 90837, 1-hour psychotherapy.

Costs

For April 2022, the Telehealth Cost Corner spotlighted the cost of CPT 90832, 30-minute psychotherapy. Nationally, the median charge amount for this service when rendered via telehealth was $115.40, and the median allowed amount was $64.84.

About the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker

Launched in May 2020 as a free service, the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker uses FAIR Health data to track how telehealth is evolving from month to month. An interactive map of the 4 US census regions allows the user to view an infographic on telehealth in a specific month in the nation as a whole or in individual regions. Each infographic shows month-to-month changes in telehealth’s percentage of medical claim lines, as well as that month’s top 5 telehealth procedure codes, diagnoses, and specialties. Additionally, in the Telehealth Cost Corner, a specific telehealth procedure code is featured, with its median charge amount and median allowed amount.