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The COVID-19 pandemic brought health care services into U.S. homes, and even beyond the pandemic, telemedicine is here to stay. Catering to residents' needs and securing access to health care, state legislatures saw over 1,000 telemedicine-related bills filed in 2021, according to Injured Workers Pharmacy.
In a new white paper from IWP, Developments in Telemedicine Amongst the States in 2021, approximately 76% of U.S. hospital systems say they utilize telemedicine services on a routine basis. In workers compensation, over a third of industry leaders said telemedicine will have an immense impact on the industry in the next 5-10 years. That impact is already happening, as telemedicine appointments increased 91% in workers compensation claims from March to April of 2020.
In response to demand for virtual visits, workers compensation providers invested heavily in new technology systems, IWP found. Across the health care industry, 89% of leaders say they are now investing substantially in telemedicine capabilities.
Addressing the increased demand and need for telemedicine, more than 1,000 telemedicine-related bills were filed in U.S. states in 2021 that sought to expand access in their respective states temporarily or permanently. These bills also addressed the needs of injured workers, IWP said.
In workers compensation, all states except for Arkansas now allow telemedicine to be used in some capacity. Before 2020, that number was less than half. Since the pandemic, these states have either added a telemedicine option or expanded their usage for worker’s injuries. Additionally, more than 30 states included updated procedural codes for telehealth services in their workers compensation fee schedules.
IWP says the legislation on telemedicine that dominated legislative circles in 2021 will likely continue in 2022 and virtual care becomes the norm across more health care sectors.
Corrected: An earlier version of this story misidentified the governor.