Telehealth Claims Study Highlights Regional and Generational Growth and Opportunities to Access Care

 

April 16, 2020

Telehealth usage up 133% from 2017 to 2019 among Health Action Council members. Millennials and GenXers lead among age groups, while Texas, Arizona and Florida lead states when it comes to telehealth visits.

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Identifying variations in virtual visit/telehealth utilization by generation, region and profession may better enable employers to offer plan designs and wellness and care programs to encourage use of this timesaving and cost-effective care option, according to a study by Health Action Council

While usage of telehealth services has increased significantly as a result of the current pandemic, utilization of and interest in these services had been growing steadily over the past few year, as described in “Virtual Visits: Trends, Implications and Recommendations for Your Organization.”

The study, which was presented at the Health Action Council’s 2020 IN*VALUE*ABLE Conference & Expo, highlights opportunities to address multigenerational and regional health and technology concerns to increase telehealth usage, enhancing health care affordability and access in the future. 

”While it is still too soon to tell if individuals will continue to access telehealth services at current rates and if these generational and regional disparities will still exist, the trajectory toward greater utilization of these services is only going up,” said Patty Starr, president and CEO, Health Action Council, an organization dedicated to improving the quality and cost of care for its member companies. 

“Our findings can provide some insight to those who have quickly transitioned to providing and utilizing virtual care visits and be used to modernize employee benefits and enhance wellness and communication efforts around virtual/telehealth visits long term. While employees may have different care needs, solutions need to address a common goal – to enhance access to care and improve health,” Starr continued. 

Key findings include:
  • Millennials and GenXers show a greater number of virtual visits (37% and 35%, respectively) than their Baby Boomer and GenZ counterparts (11% and 17% respectively).
  • Respiratory (55%) and urinary tract infections (13%) remain the top reasons why individuals use telehealth services, followed by eye and skin concerns and infections.
  • Government/public sector virtual visit utilization is four times more than professional/business and industrial/manufacturing categories at 45.4 visits per 1,000 members compared to 16.3 and 10.0 respectively. 
  • Telehealth usage resulted in savings of 662,000 minutes and up to $527,000 in retained productivity between 2017 and 2019.
  • When it comes to seeking care, choices matter based on care needs. 
  • Individuals may have 13 urgent care visits, 19 primary care provider visits, 24 convenience care visits or 45 virtual visits for the cost of one emergency room visit. 
  • Based on actual claims costs and coding over the two-year study, approximately 71% of convenience and urgent care visits could have been virtual visits, saving Health Action Council members and employees $3.8 million, or 45% of allowed costs.
The telehealth study is the third in a series of reports using nationally compiled claims data from Council member employers and proprietary analytics delivered through the UnitedHealthcare Center for Advanced Analytics to identify opportunities to improve employee and community health while managing health care costs.

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