Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? (2023)

Update: July 9, 2021

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth usage surged as consumers and providers sought ways to safely access and deliver healthcare. In April 2020, overall telehealth utilization for office visits and outpatient care was 78 times higher than in February 2020 (Exhibit 1).

Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? (1)

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This step-change, borne out of necessity, was enabled by these factors: 1) increased consumer willingness to use telehealth, 2) increased provider willingness to use telehealth, 3) regulatory changes enabling greater access and reimbursement. During the tragedy of the pandemic, telehealth offered a bridge to care, and now offers a chance to reinvent virtual and hybrid virtual/in-person care models, with a goal of improved healthcare access, outcomes, and affordability.

A year ago, we estimated that up to $250 billion of US healthcare spend could potentially be shifted to virtual or virtually enabled care. Approaching this potential level of virtual health is not a foregone conclusion. It would likely require sustained consumer and clinician adoption and accelerated redesign of care pathways to incorporate virtual modalities.

As of July 2021, we step back to review the progress of telehealth since the initial COVID-19 spike and to assess implications for telehealth and virtual health 1 more broadly going forward. Our findings include the following insights:

  • Telehealth utilization has stabilized at levels 38X higher than before the pandemic. After an initial spike to more than 32 percent of office and outpatient visits occurring via telehealth in April 2020, utilization levels have largely stabilized, ranging from 13 to 17 percent across all specialties. 2 This utilization reflects more than two-thirds of what we anticipated as visits that could be virtualized. 3
  • Similarly, consumer and provider attitudes toward telehealth have improved since the pre-COVID-19 era. Perceptions and usage have dropped slightly since the peak in spring 2020. Some barriers—such as perceptions of technology security—remain to be addressed to sustain consumer and provider virtual health adoption, and models are likely to evolve to optimize hybrid virtual and in-person care delivery.
  • Some regulatory changes that facilitated expanded use of telehealth have been made permanent, for example, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ expansion of reimbursable telehealth codes for the 2021 physician fee schedule. But uncertainty still exists as to the fate of other services that may lose their waiver status when the public health emergency ends.
  • Investment in virtual care and digital health more broadly has skyrocketed, fueling further innovation, with 3X the level of venture capitalist digital health investment in 2020 than it had in 2017. 4
  • Virtual healthcare models and business models are evolving and proliferating, moving from purely “virtual urgent care” to a range of services enabling longitudinal virtual care, integration of telehealth with other virtual health solutions, and hybrid virtual/in-person care models, with the potential to improve consumer experience/convenience, access, outcomes, and affordability.

Telehealth uptake

Since the initial spike in April 2020, telehealth adoption overall has approached up to 17 percent of all outpatient/office visit claims with evaluation and management (E&M) services. This utilization has been relatively stable since June 2020.

We are also seeing a differential uptake of telehealth depending on specialty, with the highest penetration in psychiatry (50 percent) and substance use treatment (30 percent) (Exhibit 2).

Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? (2)

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Consumer and provider perceptions of telehealth

Our consumer research 5 shows that consumers continue to view telehealth as an important modality for their future care needs, but—as expected—this view varies widely depending on the type of care. Overall, consumer perception tracks closely to what we believe is possible telehealth uptake by various specialties (Exhibit 3).

Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? (3)

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Around 40 percent of surveyed consumers stated that they believe they will continue to use telehealth going forward—up from 11 percent of consumers using telehealth prior to COVID-19.

Moreover, our research shows between 40 and 60 percent of consumers express interest in a set of broader virtual health solutions, such as a “digital front door” or lower-cost virtual-first health plan. 6 However, a gap has historically existed between consumers’ expressed interest in digital health solutions and actual usage. Continuing to focus on creating a seamless consumer interface, breaking down silos in care provision (across virtual and in-person) with improved data integration and insights, and proactive consumer engagement will all be important to sustaining and growing consumer use of virtual health as the pandemic wanes.

(Video) News Day - Your Next Move in Virtual Care

On the provider side, 58 percent of physicians continue to view telehealth more favorably now than they did before COVID-19, though perceptions have come down slightly since September 2020 (64 percent of physicians). As of April 2021, 84 percent of physicians were offering virtual visits and 57 percent would prefer to continue offering virtual care. However, 54 percent would not offer virtual care at a 15 percent discount to in-person care. 7 Most health systems are closely monitoring reimbursement. Those in bed capacity-constrained environments and value-based care arrangements are looking to understand whether there is scalable volume decanting or cost savings potential at equivalent quality.

Regulatory changes

Some regulatory changes that enabled greater telehealth access during COVID-19 have been made permanent. For example, CMS allowed telehealth coverage for a number of current procedural terminology (CPT) codes permanent in the 2021 physician fee schedule final rule. 8

However, other restrictions on telehealth may return to pre-COVID-19 normal when the public health emergency expires. For example, there were several dozen additional CPT codes that CMS allowed telehealth coverage for on a temporary basis in the 2021 physician fee schedule. 9 In addition, a waiver for public health emergency allowed telehealth to be provided for Medicare beneficiaries outside of rural areas and from home rather than from a provider’s office. The future of these provisions once the public health emergency ends is not yet clear.

Investor activity

Investment in virtual health continues to accelerate. Per Rock Health’s H1 2021 digital health funding report 10 the total venture capital investment into the digital health space in the first half of 2021 totaled $14.7 billion, which is more than all of the investment in 2020 ($14.6 billion) and nearly twice the investment in 2019 ($7.7 billion) (Exhibit 4). This increase would reflect an annualized investment of $25 billion to $30 billion in 2021, if this rate continues. In addition, total revenue of the top 60 virtual health players increased in 2020 to $5.5 billion, from around $3 billion the year before. 11

Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? (4)

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As the investment into virtual health companies continues to grow at record levels, so does the pressure on the companies within the ecosystem to innovate and find winning models that will provide sustainable competitive advantage in this quickly evolving space. This is good news for consumers and patients, as we are likely to continue seeing increased innovation in the virtual care delivery models.

The next chapter of telehealth

Telehealth appears poised to stay a robust option for care. Strong continued uptake, favorable consumer perception, the regulatory environment, and strong investment into this space are all contributing to this rate of adoption.

We are observing a quick evolution of the space and innovation beyond the “virtual urgent care” convenience. Innovations around virtual longitudinal care (both primary and specialty), enablement of care at home through remote patient monitoring and self-diagnostics, investment in “digital front doors,” and experimentation with hybrid “online/offline” models will bring new care models for consumers that help achieve healthcare’s “triple aim.”

In order to fully realize the potential of virtually enabled care models, both payers and providers should consider these new delivery models part of the core day-to-day value proposition to consumers across three areas:

1. Increasing convenience to receive routine care

  • Integrating e-triage solutions with virtual visits to create a broader “digital front door” for healthcare that enables consumers to easily get care when they need it, through the most convenient channels, and lowers the cost of care by avoiding unnecessary ED visits
  • Integrating care advocacy and telehealth solutions, as evidenced by recent M&A activity with the value proposition to make it easy for consumers to access care and find the best provider for their individual needs
  • Experimenting with virtual-first health plans. The number of virtual-first health plans grew from one in 2019 to at least eight in 2020. While these products are still nascent, they offer the potential of lower premiums and greater convenience, in return for seeing a virtual primary care provider as the first point of care. These advantages are attracting increasing attention from employers, brokers, and payers
  • Expanding the types of care that can be delivered virtually or near-virtually with innovations in at-home diagnostics/equipment or combining virtual care with at-home nurse visits

2. Improving access, especially for behavioral health and specialty care

  • Continuing to expand the range of behavioral health offerings with potential to address provider shortages in many parts of the country. For example, 56 percent of counties in the United States are without a psychiatrist, 64 percent of counties have a shortage of mental health providers, and 70 percent of counties lack a child psychiatrist. 12 This kind of access may also be an opportunity to expand community, payer, and provider partnerships
  • Expanding access to specialty care capacity, such as in rural areas where many specialties may not be available. Even outside of rural areas, provider-to-provider virtual health can improve experience and quality of care by rapidly getting specialist input

3. Improving care models and health outcomes, particularly for those with chronic conditions or in need of post-acute care support

  • Integrating remote monitoring and digital therapeutics with virtual visits, especially in value-based provider arrangements, where incorporating virtual health into their care models could improve patient outcomes and overall performance
  • Growing hospital-at-home and post-acute care-at-home models

Remaining challenges to scale

Even with these innovations, challenges remain to be worked through to realize the full potential of virtual care. These challenges include the following items:

  • The need for better data integration and improved data flows across the various players in the ecosystem, in light of the fast proliferation of point solutions, which are overwhelming consumers, payers, and providers alike
  • The need for better integration of the virtual health-related activities into day-to-day workflows of clinicians, particularly to enable hybrid care models that combine online and in-person care delivery
  • Alignment of incentives for virtual health activities with the broader movement toward value-based care, to break out of the fee-for-service mentality and the worry about reimbursement parity, especially for the virtual health models that aim to reduce total cost of care

Potential exists to improve access, quality, and affordability of healthcare, plus embrace the quarter-trillion dollar economic opportunity represented by telehealth. Collectively, industry leaders have a chance to help consumers and providers improve access and quality through the power of telehealth.

Update: May 29, 2020

COVID-19 has caused a massive acceleration in the use of telehealth. Consumer adoption has skyrocketed, from 11 percent of US consumers using telehealth in 2019 to 46 percent of consumers now using telehealth to replace cancelled healthcare visits. 13 Providers have rapidly scaled offerings and are seeing 50 to 175 times 14 15 16 the number of patients via telehealth than they did before. Pre-COVID-19, the total annual revenues of US telehealth players were an estimated $3 billion, with the largest vendors focused in the “virtual urgent care” segment: helping consumers get on-demand instant telehealth visits with physicians (most likely, with a physician they have no relationship with). 16 With the acceleration of consumer and provider adoption of telehealth and extension of telehealth beyond virtual urgent care, up to $250 billion of current US healthcare spend could potentially be virtualized. 18


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These materials are preliminary and non-exhaustive and are being made available on a non-exclusive basis solely for information purposes in response to the urgent need for measures to address the COVID-19 crisis. They reflect general insight and may present potential options for consideration based on currently available information, which is inherently uncertain and subject to change, but do not contain all of the information needed to determine a future course of action. The insights and concepts included in these materials have not been validated or independently verified. References to specific products or organizations are solely for illustration and do not constitute any endorsement or recommendation. These materials do not constitute, and should not be interpreted as, policy, accounting, legal, medical, tax or other regulated advice, or a recommendation on any specific course of action. These materials are not a guarantee of results and cannot be relied upon. Future results may differ materially from any statements of expectation, forecasts or projections. Particularly in light of rapidly evolving conditions, these materials are provided “as is” without any representation or warranty, and all liability is expressly disclaimed for any loss or damage of any kind. The recipient is solely responsible for all of its decisions, use of these materials, and compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations. Consider seeking advice of legal and other relevant certified/licensed experts prior to taking any specific steps.

(Video) Virtual Care is Healthcare | AINeuroCare

This shift is not inevitable. It will require new ways of working for a broad set of providers, step-change improvements in information exchange, and broadening access and integration of technology. The potential impact is improved convenience and access to care, better patient outcomes, and a more efficient healthcare system. Healthcare players may consider moves now that support such a shift and improve their future position.

Telehealth has surged under COVID-19

Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? (5)

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Many of these dynamics are likely to be in place for at least the next 12 to 18 months, as concerns about COVID-19 remain until a vaccine is widely available. During this period, consumers’ preferences for care access will continue to evolve, and virtual health could become more deeply embedded into the care delivery system.

However, challenges remain. Our research indicates providers’ concerns about telehealth include security, workflow integration, effectiveness compared with in-person visits, and the future for reimbursement. 19 Similarly, there is a gap between consumers’ interest in telehealth (76 percent) and actual usage (46 percent). Factors such as lack of awareness of telehealth offerings, education on types of care needs that could be met virtually, and understanding of insurance coverage are some of the drivers of this gap. 20

What is the full potential for telehealth and virtual care?

We identified five models for virtual or virtually enabled non-acute care and analyzed the full potential of healthcare volume and spend that could be delivered this way. These models of virtual care have increasing requirements to engage broader and broader portions of the healthcare delivery system, going from offering one-off urgent visits, to building omnichannel care models that deliver a large portion of office visits virtually or near virtually, to embedding virtual services in home care models. They include:

  1. On-demand virtual urgent care as an alternative to lower acuity emergency department (ED) visits, urgent care visits, and after-hours consultations. These care needs are the most common telehealth use cases today among payers. This allows a consumer to remotely consult on demand with an unknown provider to address immediate concerns (such as an acute sinusitis) and avoid a trip to the ED or an urgent care center. Such usage could be further scaled to address a larger portion of low acuity visits previously seen in EDs.
  2. Virtual office visits with an established provider for consults that do not require physical exams or concurrent procedures. Such visits can be primary care (such as chronic condition checks, colds, minor skin conditions), behavioral health (such as virtual psychotherapy sessions), and some specialty care (select follow-up visits such as virtual cardiac rehabilitation). An omnichannel care model that fully leverages virtual visits includes a mix of telehealth and in-person care with a consistent set of providers, improving patient convenience, access, and continuity of care. This model also enables clinicians to better manage patients with chronic conditions, with the support of remote patient monitoring, digital therapeutics, and digital coaching, in addition to virtual visits.
  3. Near-virtual office visits extend the opportunity for patients to conveniently access care outside a provider’s office, by combining virtual access to physician consults with “near home” sites for testing and immunizations, such as worksite clinics or retail clinics. For example, a virtual visit of a patient with flu or COVID-like symptoms could be followed up by a trip to a nearby retail clinic for a flu or COVID-19 test, with a subsequent follow-up virtual check-in with the primary care physician to consult on follow-on care.
  4. Virtual home health services leverage virtual visits, remote monitoring, and digital patient engagement tools to enable some of these services to be delivered remotely, such as a portion of an evaluation, patient and care giver education, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Direct services, such as wound care and assistance with daily living routines, would still occur in person, but virtual home health services could enhance the patient’s and caregiver’s experience, extend the reach of home health providers, and improve connectivity with the broader care team. For example, a physical therapist could conduct virtual sessions with elderly patients at their home to improve their strength, balance, and endurance, and to advise them how to avoid physical hazards to reduce risk of falls.
  5. Tech-enabled home medication administration allows patients to shift receiving some infusible and injectable drugs from the clinic to the home. This shift can happen by leveraging remote monitoring to help manage patients and monitor symptoms, providing self-service tools for patient education (for example, training for self-administration), and providing telehealth oversight of staff (for example, an oncologist overseeing a nurse delivering chemotherapy to a patient at home and monitoring for side effects). This would be coupled with home delivery of the therapeutics.
Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality? (6)

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(Video) The Role of AI-Powered Technology in Optimizing Telehealth

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Our claims-based analysis suggests that approximately 20 percent of all emergency room visits could potentially be avoided via virtual urgent care offerings, 24 percent of healthcare office visits and outpatient volume could be delivered virtually, and an additional 9 percent “near-virtually.” Furthermore, up to 35 percent of regular home health attendant services could be virtualized, and 2 percent of all outpatient volume could be shifted to the home setting, with tech-enabled medication administration. Overall, these changes add up to $250 billion in healthcare spend in 2020 that could be shifted to virtual or near-virtual care, or 20 percent of all office, outpatient, and home health spend across Medicare, Medicaid, and commercially insured populations.


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What changes need to happen to realize the full potential of telehealth?

This value will not happen without concerted efforts by healthcare stakeholders, innovations in care models, adoption of new technologies, and supporting infrastructure.

  1. Scale the use of virtual urgent care. This change will require building out flexible provider networks to address the shortages and long wait times that consumers experienced during the initial escalation of telehealth demand. Sustaining and growing patient use also will likely require active, personalized patient engagement, by both providers and payers, to ensure a positive experience with telehealth. Integration with e-triage/symptom solutions (by either provider or payer) can make the patient experience even more seamless and can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to guide patients to the most appropriate care. Finally, the ability to access patients’ medical records and make post-encounter additions may be needed to enable care integration.
  2. Scale the use of fully virtual office visits. This change would require going beyond on-demand visits with an unknown provider and embedding virtual health in the “brick and mortar” healthcare system. Telehealth solutions will likely need to be easier to embed in provider workflows and address security concerns, both of which have been raised by providers as limiting factors to telehealth adoption. 1 Capabilities are needed to allow for more seamless information exchange and sufficiently rich clinical data to be transferred among providers and between providers and patients (for example, ensuring all providers caring for a complex patient have access to the clinical record and can update it based on virtual visits, plus leveraging AI and natural language processes to capture notes in easily sharable forms). In addition, retail diagnostic kits (for example, home pulse oximeters, blood pressure machines) must be widely available, so patients can take basic measurements at home and enable a broader set of care to be delivered virtually. Providers should have a clear end-to-end value proposition for integrating telehealth into their service delivery model (for example, incorporating the value from patient attraction and retention and operating model efficiency, in addition to reimbursement for visits). Payers should also have a clear view of potential outcomes and total cost of care impact (for example, by population and care journey) to inform decisions on provider engagement strategies and reimbursement.
  3. Integrate “near virtual” office visits into the care continuum. These near-virtual visits will have requirements similar to fully virtual office visits, and scale up the availability of “near-home” sites of care (for example, workplace and retail clinics). They would be integrated into provider networks and delivery system footprints, and optimize care protocols to guide patients to these sites. Even further data integration will likely be needed. This may include patient data shared across platforms outside of a single health system and patient tools (for example, comprehensive personal health records applications, care navigation tools) that allow patients to manage their care across providers.
  4. Virtualize home care services. This change would likely require increased access to and use of remote monitoring devices, tailored to specific clinical conditions (such as remote continuous glucose monitoring sensors for people with diabetes or remote heartbeat monitors and blood pressure monitors for people with cardiovascular conditions). Providers may be required to integrate use of such devices into care plans. Payers may need to offer reimbursement, and solutions may need to enable integrated access between, for example, primary care physicians, care managers, and at-home caregivers. These services could also require the deployment of supportive patient engagement tools (for example, digital coaching, care plan navigation tools), tailored to patients’ needs and integrated with communication channels to providers, care managers, and others involved in their care.
  5. Tech-enabled home medication administration. This change will have requirements similar to virtualized home care services, as well as tailored digital tools to support monitoring and care delivery (for example, medication adherence tools), and virtual access to pharmacist consults.

Scaling telehealth does more than alleviate patient and provider concerns over the next 12 to 18 months until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Telehealth can increase access to necessary care in areas with shortages, such as behavioral health, improve the patient experience, and improve health outcomes. Fundamentally, the integration of fully virtual and near-virtual health solutions brings care closer to home, increasing the convenience for patients to access care when they need it and the likelihood that they will take the right steps to manage their care. These solutions can also make healthcare more efficient; evidence prior to COVID-19 shows that telehealth solutions deployed for chronic populations can improve total cost of care by 2 to 3 percent. 21 The actual opportunity is likely greater once stakeholders embed telehealth as the new normal (for example, driven by improved abilities to manage chronic patients, potential increases in provider productivity).

What actions should healthcare stakeholders take in the near term to shape this opportunity?

Actions payers could consider:

  1. Define a value-backed virtual health roadmap, taking a data-driven view to prioritize interventions that will improve outcomes for priority populations, and develop strategies to digitally enable end-to-care care journeys.
  2. Optimize provider networks and accelerate value-based contracting to incentivize telehealth. Define approaches (beyond the immediate COVID-19 response measures) to reimbursement and covered services, embed in contracting, and optimize networks and value-based models to include virtual health. Align incentives for using telehealth, particularly for chronic patients, with the shift to risk-based payment models.
  3. Build virtual health into new product designs to meet changing consumer preferences and demand for lower-cost plans. This new design may include virtual-first networks, digital front-door features (for example, e-triage), seamless “plug and play” capabilities to offer innovative digital solutions, and benefit coverage for at-home diagnostic kits.
  4. Integrate virtual health into the care delivery approach. Given the significant disruptions to providers, payers are reassessing their role in care delivery—from ownership of care delivery assets, value-based contracting, or anything in between. Consider options in virtual health (for example, platforms, digital-first providers) as a critical element of this approach.
  5. Reinforce the technology and analytics foundation that will be required to achieve the full potential of virtual health.

Actions health systems could consider:

  1. Accelerate development of an overall consumer-integrated “front door.” Consider what the integrated product will initially cover beyond what currently exists and integrate with what may have been put in place in response to COVID-19 (for example, e-triage, scheduling, clinic visits, record access).
  2. Segment the patient populations (for example, with specific chronic disease) and specialties whose remote interactions could be scaled with home-based diagnostics and equipment.
  3. Build the capabilities and incentives of the provider workforce to support virtual care (for example, workflow design, centralized scheduling, and continuing education); align benefit structure to drive adoption in line with health system and/or physician practice economics.
  4. Measure the value of virtual care by quantifying clinical outcomes, access improvement, and patient/provider satisfaction to drive advocacy and contracting for continued expanded coverage. Include the potential value from telehealth when contracting with payers for risk models to manage chronic patients.
  5. Consider strategies and rationale to go beyond “telehealth”/clinic visit replacement to drive growth in new markets and populations and scale other applications (for example, teleICU, post-acute care integration).

Actions investors and health services and technology firms could consider:

(Video) Interview w/ Oleg & Jenny: proliferation of innovative business models beyond pure telehealth visit

  1. Develop scenarios on how virtual health will evolve and when, including how usage evolved post-COVID-19, based on expected consumer preferences, reimbursement, CMS, and other regulations.
  2. Assess impact across virtual health solution/service types, developing a view of the opportunity for each solution/service type, including expected consumer/provider adoption, impact (for example, to outcomes, experience, affordability), and reimbursement.
  3. Develop potential options and define investment strategies based on the expected virtual health future (for example, combinations of existing players/platforms, linkages between in-person and virtual care offerings) and create sustainable value.
  4. Identify the assets and capabilities to implement these options, including specific assets or capabilities to best enable the play, and business models that will deliver attractive returns.
  5. Execute, execute, execute. The next normal will rapidly take hold, and those that can best anticipate its impact will create disproportionate value. Don’t underestimate the potential of network effect.


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Technical Appendix

Our analysis looked at 2018 claims data representative for Medicare, commercial, and Medicaid lines of business.

Emergency rooms and virtual care

We analyzed the emergency room visits and associated primary diagnoses. Using the NYU Wagner ED visit classification 1 research on various categories of the visits, we split the visits into those with non-emergent status (a big portion of which could be highly avoidable if proper self-triage and virtual urgent care tools could be available at people’s disposal) versus those that are higher emergency in nature, and are unlikely to be avoided using virtual urgent care. We assigned probabilities of potential to divert each category of these visits via a virtual urgent care offering.

Outpatient hospital and office visits

We filtered for visits that have evaluation and management procedure codes and analyzed individual claims to determine whether other additional services and procedures occurred during the visit (for example, administration of infusible/injectable drugs, blood draws, immunizations, physical therapy). We categorized the opportunities:

  • Virtual office visits: a visit included only evaluation and management and no other procedures
  • Near-virtual office visits: a visit included blood draws/lab tests and administration of immunizations/vaccinations
  • Tech-enabled home medication administration: the visit included administration of drugs in a clinic/outpatient setting (for example, administration of “J-code” infusible/injectable drugs). We included only a portion of the spend associated with these procedures, using our estimates of what portion of the procedure spend could be saved by shifting administration of these drugs from outpatient to home settings
  • Other: all other visits

We conducted clinical reviews to further categorize the various kinds of procedures into high, medium, and low probability of being virtual.

Home health attendant services

We filtered for visits and services occurring in a home setting, and looked at what types of services were rendered during such visits:

  • Direct nursing and attendant services (such as wound care, assistance with daily living routines, administration of IV) which are much less likely to be delivered virtually—if at all
  • Services that can potentially be delivered virtually (such as evaluation, general assessment, patient and caregiver education, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy)

For services that did not involve direct nursing or attendant services, we conducted clinical reviews to further categorize them into high, medium, and low ability to virtualize.

After conducting these analyses for each of the commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid data sets, we scaled and projected the spend and utilization to represent national 2020 spend figures, using CMS National Health Expenditure projections. 2

The window to act is now. The current crisis has demonstrated the relevance of telehealth and created an opening to modernize the care delivery system. This modernization will be achieved by embedding telehealth in the care continuum at scale. A $3 billion revenue market has the potential to grow to $250 billion. The seeds for success will be sown in the next few months during the COVID-19 crisis. Healthcare systems that come out ahead will be those who act decisively, invest to build capabilities at scale, work hard to rewire the care delivery model, and deliver distinctive high-quality care to consumers.

(Video) COVID19/Telehealth - Evolution of Telehealth and COVID 19 - Webinar 5


How much did telehealth increase during the pandemic? ›

We found that the number of telehealth services in those states increased dramatically—15x the pre-pandemic level (from 2.1 million the year prior to 32.5 million in the 12 months from March 2020 to February 2021). Learn more about this increase by listening to our podcast with GAO's Medicaid expert, Carolyn Yocom.

How has telehealth helped during the pandemic? ›

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has emerged worldwide as an indispensable resource to improve the surveillance of patients, curb the spread of disease, facilitate timely identification and management of ill people, but, most importantly, guarantee the continuity of care of frail patients with multiple ...

What is the financial impact of telehealth? ›

Savings through substitutions

A 2017 study found that telehealth visits cost patients an average of $79, compared to $146 for an office visit. That is in addition to savings associated with time and travel costs, estimated to total $89 billion a year in lost time.

Was telehealth used before COVID? ›

Telemedicine in the United States before March 2020

4 Despite these hurdles, 76% of US hospital systems used some form of telemedicine as of 2018, with radiology, psychiatry, and cardiology noted as the highest users of the modality.

How much did remote work increase after Covid? ›

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021 Business Response Survey to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Among the 6 percent of establishments that relocated since the start of the pandemic, 58 percent increased telework, compared with 32 percent among establishments that did not relocate.

Does telehealth improve health outcomes? ›

Focus on patient education

Telehealth can enhance your current patient education delivery as it overcomes the common barriers associated with an in-person model, such as time, distance, and cost. For patients with chronic conditions, this could make a significant difference.

Who benefits the most from telehealth? ›

Caters to special health needs

Groups that might be especially likely to benefit from telehealth include: People who live in rural areas with limited access to care. People who need to see a specialist (like a dermatologist) but do not have one in their area.

What problem does telehealth solve? ›

Telehealth technologies improve patient engagement

Telehealth visits encourage patients to be more engaged in their care. Many telehealth technologies allow patients to easily communicate with their care teams, self-monitor their conditions, and track their well-being.

How telehealth has improved healthcare? ›

This improves the quality of medical practice, allowing doctors to spend less time on rural assignments and providing more care to patients. Telemedicine also enables private healthcare specialists to practise and will enhance the patient experience.

What is possibly the biggest disadvantage to telehealth? ›

Downsides to telehealth

You still have to go into the office for things like imaging tests and blood work, as well as for diagnoses that require a more hands-on approach. The security of personal health data transmitted electronically is a concern.

Is telehealth really cost effective? ›

Is telemedicine cost-effective? Some studies like the one by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine indicate that telehealth is economical and convenient. The study found cost savings per telemedicine visit between $19 and $121.

Will Medicare pay for telehealth visits in 2022? ›

In 2022, virtually all Medicare Advantage plans (98%) offer a telehealth benefit. During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 49% of Medicare Advantage enrollees used telehealth services.

What are the limits to telehealth? ›

Limitations of Telemedicine

A significant limitation is the inability to conduct an in-person physical examination. Inaccurate dosing of weight-based drugs (e.g., chemotherapy treatments, pediatric medications) may occur due to the inability to weigh patients.

What are the barriers of telehealth? ›

Lack of insurer coverage of telehealth services (76 percent) Low or no reimbursement (64 percent) Technology challenges for my patient population (54 percent) Licensure in additional states (40 percent)

How much has remote work increased in 2022? ›

A Gallup survey in June of 2022 found that 8 in 10 people are working hybrid or remote, while only 2 in 10 are entirely on-site. And an AT&T study found the hybrid work model is expected to grow from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024. Employees are eager to continue working remotely or hybrid.

Why people are not returning to work? ›

What's holding folks back from returning to the workforce and taking available jobs? Disruptions to schooling and child care are still keeping people who were working before the pandemic out of the workforce now. Chris Hossellman of Palo Alto, California, has two young kids.

What percentage of employees work remotely 2022? ›

As of 2022, 26% of U.S. employees now work remotely, which is four times the number who worked remotely before. By 2025, there could be as many as 36.2 million Americans working remotely.

How viable is telehealth in healthcare? ›

Telehealth is beneficial for specific uses and patient populations. There is a large volume of research reporting that clinical outcomes with telehealth are as good as or better than usual care and that telehealth improves intermediate outcomes and satisfaction.

What impact does telehealth have on healthcare? ›

Telehealth helps increase health care value and affordability. Virtual care technology saves patients time and money, reduces patient transfers, emergency department and urgent care center visits, and delivers savings to payers.

How will telehealth impact the future of healthcare? ›

The advantages of telemedicine moving forward include its cost-effectiveness, ability to extend access to specialty services and its potential to help mitigate the looming physician shortage.

What are the disadvantages of telehealth for patients? ›

Disadvantages of Telemedicine for Patients

If you require urgent or emergency care, telemedicine may delay your treatment. While doctors can provide information over a video call or an exchange of text messages, they cannot directly administer care.

What is the most significant reason that telehealth is important? ›

Patient Protection

More so, it's even harder to protect your health if you have to frequently visit your doctor at the hospital or clinic. With telehealth technology, primary doctors and specialists can visit their clinic practices as frequently as they can using telehealth technology.

Is telehealth cheaper than an office visit? ›

Telehealth is a cheaper, more affordable option than an office visit. Several studies found that telehealth may offer some patients a more affordable option for medical care [4-7]. A virtual telehealth appointment typically costs around $40 to $50, while in-person care can cost as much as $176 per visit [4].

What are 2 benefits of telehealth? ›

With telemedicine, you don't have to drive to the doctor's office or clinic, park, walk or sit in a waiting room when you're sick. You can see your doctor from the comfort of your own bed or sofa. Virtual visits can be easier to fit into your busy schedule.

What are the top three challenges of telehealth services? ›

The top three challenges of telehealth services are lack of infrastructure, insufficient hardware and the right technology for each specialty.

How 5G will impact telehealth? ›

5G directly supports enhanced security and privacy in telemedicine by building on the proven, solid security foundation of 4G LTE. It also significantly reduces latency, allowing for the improved use of applications such as edge cloud technology and AI to execute faster data analysis locally.

What are the 4 types of telehealth? ›

Today, telehealth encompasses four distinct applications. These are commonly known as live video, store-and-forward, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health. Explore each modality in detail to learn more.

What makes telehealth successful? ›

A successful telehealth program should reduce the cost of care by eliminating certain expenses for the consumer, such as travel expenses and long wait times. Needing to travel long distances to receive care, as well as waiting in line, can inhibit a patient's ability to earn a living.

What are five 5 Future Challenges to Implementing eHealth and telemedicine? ›

We classified eHealth challenges in 10 different categories 1)Detection of disease at early stage; 2)Reducing Cost of Health Care by using eHealth System; 3)Efficient Managing Patient's Data in eHealth System; 4)Effective utilization of Skills of HSR and IT Expert; 5)Establish trust between HSR and IT Expert; 6)Patient ...

Does telehealth reduce hospitalizations? ›

We found high-quality evidence that, compared with usual care, telehealth leads to reductions in mean all-cause (MD −0.05, 95% CI −0.14 to 0.03 hospitalizations per patient; −5.7% of usual care) and condition-related hospitalizations (MD −0.11, 95% −0.20 to −0.01; −23.4%), that is, 50 to 110 fewer mean hospitalizations ...

Is telehealth saving money? ›

Telehealth realizes $361 in savings per patient or $8566 total service cost savings compared with traditional in-home care program over 6-months (~$13,713 per annum).

Why is telehealth more expensive? ›

Telehealth services are more expensive in rural areas with fewer providers because doctors have to travel longer distances to see patients.

What are the pros and cons of telemedicine? ›

Top pros and cons of telehealth
  • Pro: Telehealth minimizes the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Con: It's impossible to conduct a physical exam virtually.
  • Pro: Telehealth is convenient.
  • Con: Regulations can be confusing.
  • Pro: Telehealth can reduce unnecessary ER visits.
Jan 12, 2021

What are three critical to implementing a telehealth system? ›

Equipment Requirements. Network, connectivity, and equipment requirements should be considered when providing telehealth within any clinical discipline.

Will Medicare continue to pay for telehealth in 2023? ›

Medicare patients can receive telehealth services authorized in the Calendar Year 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule in their home. There are no geographic restrictions for originating site for non-behavioral/mental telehealth services.

What changes are coming to Medicare in 2023? ›

For 2023, the Part A deductible will be $1,600 per stay, an increase of $44 from 2022. For those people who have not worked long enough to qualify for premium-free Part A, the monthly premium will also rise. The full Part A premium will be $506 a month in 2023, a $7 increase.

What is the 30 20 telehealth rule? ›

This was introduced on 1 January 2022, but will now be deferred. Under these new arrangements, a consultant physician or GP who provides 30 or more phone attendances on each of 20 or more days in a 12-month period would be referred to the Professional Services Review.

Why telehealth is important during COVID? ›

Telehealth, especially via phone, can be used to interview patients with COVID-19 to determine who they were in contact with during the time they were potentially infectious, and to follow-up with their contacts to inform them of the need to quarantine, assess whether they have any symptoms, and tell them what to do if ...

What's the difference between telemedicine and telehealth? ›

While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.

Why has telehealth adoption taken so long? ›

Background. The adoption of telehealth services has been a challenge in rural communities. The reasons for the slow adoption of such technology-driven services have been attributed to social norms, health care policies, and a lack of infrastructure to support the delivery of services.

What is the biggest barrier to healthcare? ›

Five key barriers to healthcare access in the United States
  1. Insufficient insurance coverage. A lack of insurance often contributes to a lack of healthcare. ...
  2. Healthcare staffing shortages. ...
  3. Stigma and bias among the medical community. ...
  4. Transportation and work-related barriers. ...
  5. Patient language barriers.
Jul 27, 2022

How much has remote work increased during the pandemic? ›

In 2021, the percentage working from home in metro areas jumped to roughly 19%, compared with 9% of home-based workers outside of metros.

How much has telemedicine increased? ›

In 2021, 37.0% of adults used telemedicine in the past 12 months. Telemedicine use increased with age, and was higher among women (42.0%) compared with men (31.7%).

What is the growth of telehealth 2022? ›

The largest growth in adoption was among digital health tools that aid in remote care. The percentage of physicians using tele-visits/virtual visits grew from 14% in 2016 to 80% in 2022 while the percentage of physicians using remote monitoring devices grew from 12% in 2016 to 30% in 2022.

How much have online sales increased since COVID-19? ›

According to the most recent 2020 ARTS release, e-commerce sales increased by $244.2 billion or 43% in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, rising from $571.2 billion in 2019 to $815.4 billion in 2020.

Are remote jobs declining? ›

Although some companies favor remote working, others are reducing the number of remote offerings. According to LinkedIn data, remote work positions fell to 14% in September from a high of 20% in February. But this decline in remote work listings has not reduced employees' demand for workplace flexibility.

How many people use telehealth in 2022? ›

27.6 million

Is telehealth still popular 2022? ›

Through most of 2021, telehealth usage among this population hovered at 16 to 18 percent. It increased slightly to 19 percent in Q1 2022 and then declined to 15 percent in Q2 2022.

What is the problem with telehealth? ›

Poor internet connection and lack of universal access to technology were among the technical barriers. Concerns about patient privacy and reimbursement hindered the use of telemedicine too.

Why did prices rise after Covid? ›

Economics teacher Grant Blackburn said inflation is caused by changes in supply and demand. Blackburn said consumers tended to save money during the COVID-19 restrictions but are now spending it, driving up prices, and supply chain problems have made the problem worse.

Are online sales declining? ›

eCommerce spending has had a declining growth rate since the beginning of 2022.

Will e-commerce sustain the boom post COVID? ›

New UNCTAD figures show that the significant uptick in consumer e-commerce activity fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic was sustained in 2021, with online sales increasing markedly in value, despite the easing of restrictions in many countries.


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