Multidisciplinary Clinical Case Study
Early Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Telehealth Patterns in Primary Care, Mental Health, and Specialty Care Facilities in Texas
AbstractObjectives: Since the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, many US clinics have shifted some or all of their practice from in-person to virtual visits. In this study, we assessed the use of telehealth among primary care and specialty clinics, by targeting healthcare administrators via multiple channels.
Methods: Using an online survey, we assessed the use of, barriers to, and reimbursement for telehealth. Respondents included clinic administrators (chief executive officers, vice presidents, directors, and senior-level managers).
Results: A total of 85 complete responses were recorded, 79% of which represented solo or group practices and 63% reported a daily patient census >50. The proportion of clinics that delivered ≥50% of their consults using telehealth increased from 16% in March to 42% in April, 35% in May, and 30% in June. Clinics identified problems with telehealth reimbursement; although 63% of clinics reported that ≥75% of their telehealth consults were reimbursed, only 51% indicated that ≥75% of their telehealth visits were reimbursed at par with in-person office visits. Sixty-five percent of clinics reported having basic or foundational telehealth services, whereas only 9% of clinics reported advanced telehealth maturity. Value-based care participating clinics were more likely to report advanced telehealth services (27%), compared with non-value-based care clinics (3%).
Conclusions: These findings highlight the adaptability of clinics to quickly transition and adopt telehealth. Uncertainty about reimbursement and policy changes may make the shift temporal, however.
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