Utilization of telehealth as a share of overall medical claims declined from May to June, according to new data from FAIR Health, a national nonprofit.
There was a nearly 4% dip in the percent of total claims utilizing telehealth. The summer’s decline followed a 10% increase between April and May.
“In June 2022, telehealth claim lines accounted for 5.2% of medical claims nationally,” Robin Gelburd, FAIR Health President said in an emailed statement. “That is higher than pre-pandemic levels (0.16% in June 2019) but lower than the level in the same month two years ago (6.85% in June 2020).”
According to Gelburd, the usage fluctuations can be tied to pandemic trends.
“Even though there has been a decline since the peak months of 2020, telehealth utilization has remained much higher than before the pandemic,” Gelburd said. “In December 2021, telehealth claim lines accounted for 4.9% of medical claim lines nationally.”
The most common area for telehealth consultations in June was in mental health, according to FAIR’s data. Psychotherapy sessions took up more than 40% of all claim lines and accounted for more than 60% of diagnoses. The most common clinician profession to use telehealth were social workers.
Outside of mental health appointments, established patient primary care visits rounded out the top five most common procedure codes for telehealth. Family care physicians and professionals accounted for nearly a quarter of physicians billing for telehealth.
Despite recent acquisitions of One Medical by Amazon and Signify Health by CVS, experts said the data reveals that consumers’ desire for a virtual-only experience is waning.
“While telehealth is an exciting frontier, there are somewhat limited use cases where it really ends up providing effective and high-value healthcare services,” said Alli Oakes, director of research at Trilliant Health, a healthcare data company.
In its own data, Trilliant Health found overall telehealth visit volumes have declined 59.2% since April 2020. In 2021, Trilliant found that almost 80% of Americans solely pursued in-person care in 2021.
“The data is just suggesting that people need to be in the office with their provider to really come to the best clinical decision,” Oakes said. She anticipates utilization will continue to fall.
That’s driven largely by consumer preferences, which has led to a misallocation in the market.
“The supply of digitally enabled companies continues to grow, while demand is clearly on the decline and continuing to shrink,” she said.
According to Digital Health Business and Technology’s funding database, telehealth companies have raised more than $567 million this quarter. While those totals are trending lower than previous quarters, investor interest persists. Last quarter, investments in telemedicine secured $713 million in funding—the largest single category measured.