Telemedicine is on the rise as providers seek ways to see patients while maintaining safe distances during the COVID-19 pandemic, but new data shows that the upward trend pre-dates 2020, according to an analysis released by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).
The Florida-based ratings agency found that 3.7 out of 1,000 patients saw their providers via remote technology in 2019 — a steady increase from 1.4 in 2015. NCCI said it expects that number to rise dramatically, in line with overall health care trends, as highlighted in the analysis.
With the pandemic that saw more than 200% increases in telemedicine utilisation, such “services have quickly changed from a lesser-used alternative delivery of treatment to a key medical tool,” the report states.
“With possible benefits ranging from increasing efficiency of care to making specialists more easily accessible, this emerging option has the potential to affect an injured worker’s outcome positively. Telemedicine also faces limitations, such as the lack of face-to-face assessment, expensive implementation, and potential privacy concerns.”
Aiming to provide ‘baseline information’ on the state of telemedicine services prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NCCI said in its report that it has been monitoring temporary, emergency changes to state requirements that made it simpler for providers to work with patients remotely. Such changes included loosening technology requirements for providers and addressing fee schedules.
NCCI said it would continue to track the trend.
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