Data & Analysis

Tracking U.S. Telehealth Adoption a Year Into the COVID-19 Pandemic

Trend Analysis & Implications for Health Systems
2 minutes

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, several key trends in telehealth adoption have emerged that suggest ongoing and focused care model transformation. While overall telehealth adoption is generally expected to continue to trend upwards in the months and years to come, providers must further understand how telehealth is best utilized by specific service lines and for specific patients and use cases to supplement — and in some cases, supplant — in-person ambulatory care.

This analysis uses several million claims records from Jan. 1, 2020, through Jan. 25, 2021, to track telehealth adoption trends since the beginning of the pandemic to identify where we see the greatest impact — and infer where it is likely to remain in the future. Distinctive pockets of sustained adoption are emerging, like behavioral health, which have become truly transformed care models over the last year. Primary care and some medical specialties are also expanding their experimentation with integrating telehealth into their care delivery platforms in a more deliberate way.

Looking ahead, telehealth will continue to play an important role for health systems to recapture demand, both by onboarding new patients and by maintaining their existing relationships. Offering a compelling experience to patients and providers alike will dictate how well telehealth can be leveraged to recover volumes in the post-pandemic era and carve out differentiated care models that will determine market leaders over the long term.

We reviewed 6 key areas of telehealth adoption to identify emerging trends in the first year of data:
  • Geographic Trends
  • Patient Demographics
  • New vs. Established Patient Visits
  • Primary and Specialty Care
  • Clinical Service Line Adoption
  • Aggregate Demand and Substitution Effects

The Chartis Group and Kythera Labs have brought together a team of data scientists, visualization experts and industry thought leaders to develop the Telehealth Adoption Tracker, an advanced analytic tool designed to measure how COVID-19 has driven rapid telehealth adoption across the country. The Telehealth Adoption Tracker allows a user to analyze how geographies and specialties have been impacted by the rapid switch to telehealth over time.

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