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Comp researchers find use of telemedicine stabilized following pandemic


The Workers Compensation Research Institute reported the use of telemedicine services that increased substantially in the second quarter of 2020 was already decreasing by the third quarter and has stabilized in subsequent quarters. 

According to a new WCRI report published Thursday, telemedicine’s share of evaluation and management services was still higher at 3% in the first quarter of 2021 as compared with 0.2% pre-pandemic. At the same time, the use of telemedicine for physical medicine moved closer to the pre-pandemic level. 

John Ruser, WCRI’s president and CEO, said in the report that “multiple legislative actions at the federal and state level are being debated in order to streamline the process of delivering medical services via telemedicine and regulate the reimbursement for telemedicine services. For these reasons, the utilization and prices of medical services delivered via telemedicine remain important measures to monitor in workers’ compensation.” 

Researchers found that prices paid for telemedicine services were similar to those for in-person services in the vast majority of the 28 states studied and that the prevalence of telemedicine use was higher among workers with sprains and strains. 

On average across study states, the time to initial visit was similar for telemedicine services and in-person services. Workers relying only on in-person visits had fewer visits on average during the first two quarters from injury date than workers who used only telemedicine services, while patients with a mix of telemedicine and in-person follow-up services had a significantly larger number of total visits. 

WorkCompCentral is a sister publication of Business Insurance. More stories here.