The US healthcare sector has experienced a number of significant reforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, a sizable portion of treatment was delayed as a result of the stress hospitals were under from the enormous number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients. The healthcare sector worked to deliver healthcare through different techniques to address this. As a result, the telehealth services sector experienced an unprecedented growth. There is uncertainty within the healthcare industry regarding the validity of telehealth. However, a recent study in JAMA NETWORK OPEN supported the use of telehealth communication technology as a means of delivering healthcare using alternative data.
Researchers at JMIR sought to investigate the use of telehealth by analyzing commercially insured groups for a more comprehensive study, in contrast with previous major studies, which used Medicare data. The study analyzed more than 40 million privately insured patients under the age of 65. Participants in the research had to be covered by employer-based, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and other private health insurance policies between July 2019 and December 2020 and be consistently enrolled in the plans. The information was gathered using the claims records of individuals who primarily utilized the commercial health plan as their primary insurance. The study’s primary results consisted of the amount of in-person visits per enrollee divided by the characteristics obtained from enrollment files, practitioner claims, and community factors associated with the enrollee’s zip code. The results of the care were assessed 14 days following the first visits. These outcomes included any further telemedicine or in-person visits, visits to the emergency department, and hospitalizations.
The study’s 40.7 million respondents indicated that at the height of the pandemic, telemedicine accounted for a sizable portion of in-person visits and continued to be widely used when infection rates started to decline. When follow-up visits were considered, the utilization of telehealth services for the supervision of chronic illnesses was just as effective as in-person care, if not more so. However, patients who had an initial telemedicine consultation for an acute disease appeared to need more follow-up care from their doctors. Particularly for acute respiratory-related diseases, where worries about COVID-19 can be more prevalent than worries about other acute respiratory conditions. According to experts, the study will be very helpful in encouraging politicians, patients, and healthcare professionals that telemedicine is a practical substitute for in-person treatment.