QUICK POINTS:

  • Telemedicine claims as a proportion of all commercial health insurance claims decreased by 5.1% nationwide from February to March, after a steeper decline of 15.7% from January to February as vaccination efforts increased and COVID-19 increased. Cases declined as a result.
  • Telehealth claims accounted for 7% of all medical claims positions in January, before falling to 5.9% in February and 5.6% in March, suggesting a steady slowdown in virtual care demand this year.
  • The historically high usage of telemedicine over the past year has resulted in an unprecedented inflow of cash into the sector and an increase in mergers and acquisitions among virtual care players looking to gain market share.
  • Doctors using telemedicine software are not sure of its value to patients and believe telehealth may pose risks.

SUMMARY: Once again, the “hype” may be bigger than the reality around telehealth. First, people aren’t always completely honest with their doctors. A recent study published in the journal JAMA Network Open found that 60 to 80 percent of patients have been less than fully forthright with their doctors at some point which can be worse with telehealth. According to a survey, close to 60% of physicians have lingering reservations about the quality of care they can provide remotely.

  • 82 percent of U.S. consumers do not use telehealth.
  • In 2016, researchers posing as patients turned to 16 different telemedicine apps to diagnose skin issues. The results? Some of the online doctors misdiagnosed conditions like syphilis, others prescribed unnecessary meds, and two of the sites used doctors who aren’t licensed to practice in the state the patient was located.
  • Even in the digital age, a lot of people simply want to see their doctor in person. They’re not Luddites. But sick, vulnerable people often need in-person reassurance from another human being in the room. A smartphone app simply won’t cut it.
  • Still telehealth is going to find a niche.