1 specialty the exception as telehealth continues to tumble

Going by private health-insurance data, national telehealth utilization dropped 12.5% this spring, slipping from 5.6% of claims in March to 4.9% in April.

This made for a three-month trend as recorded by Fair Health’s monthly regional telehealth tracker. The service showed declines of 5.1% in March vs. February and of 15.7% in February vs. January.

The falloff owes largely to the comeback of in-person doctor visits following telemedicine’s surge during the public health crisis brought on by COVID, Fair Health points out in a July 7 news release.

One corner of U.S. healthcare is bucking the trend: Virtual mental healthcare is still on the rise, growing from 57% of claims in March to 58.6% in April.

Also of interest, acute respiratory ailments increased in April as a percentage of telehealth claim lines nationally and in the Midwest and South.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, this suggests a return to non-COVID respiratory conditions, such as colds and bronchitis,” the nonprofit consumer group says.

“Also in April,” Fair Health notes, “general signs and symptoms joined the top five telehealth diagnoses in the West, again suggesting a return to more ‘ordinary,’ non-COVID conditions such as colds and stomach viruses.”

The findings are consistent with those from Trilliant, which recently reported U.S. telehealth sessions falling below 10 million in January for the first time since the spring of 2020.

Fair Health news release here, latest interactive tracking map here.

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