Injured employees used most telemedicine providers throughout the pandemic – company insurance

Telemedicine service usage in Texas had risen sharply during the pandemic, with injured workers making up the bulk of claims, according to a report released Wednesday by the Texas Department of Insurance's Workers Compensation Research and Evaluation Group.

Access to telemedicine services in Texas wasn't expanded to injured workers until 2018. To examine how these services were used and deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the TDI report compared their usage and costs before and in the middle of the pandemic. The report also compared telemedicine usage for network and non-network claims.

Before the pandemic, from September 1, 2018 to March 12, 2020, only 3% of applications that received professional medical services received at least one telemedicine service, a total of 951 applications. From March 13, 2020 to July 31, 2021, the number of telemedical services rose to 21,086 applications.

By and large, adults between the ages of 45 and 54 used most telemedicine services during the pandemic, most of which were men and injured workers. Office visits were the most widely used telemedicine service before and during the pandemic. As for costs, total payments for telemedicine services increased, and insurers paid about three-quarters of the services billed, the report said.

In the investigation time to treatment, the average number of days from injury to first telemedicine service was around six to seven weeks from April to September 2020, but dropped to around three weeks in 2021.

The researchers note that they will monitor the use and cost of these services as the pandemic progresses and whether these services are being provided in medically underserved geographic areas of the state.

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