Background The COVID-19 pandemic affected outpatient care delivery and patients' access to health care. However, no prior studies have documented telehealth use among patients with cardiovascular disease. Methods and Results We documented the number of telehealth and in-person outpatient encounters per 100 patients with cardiovascular disease and the percentage of telehealth encounters from January 2019 to June 2021, and the average payments per telehealth and in-person encounters across a 12-month period (July 2020-June 2021) using the MarketScan commercial database. From February 2020 to April 2020, the number of in-person encounters per 100 patients with cardiovascular disease decreased from 304.2 to 147.7, whereas that of telehealth encounters increased from 0.29 to 25.3. The number of in-person outpatient encounters then increased to 280.7 in June 2020, fluctuated between 268.1 and 346.4 afterward, and ended at 268.1 in June 2021, lower than the prepandemic levels. The number of telehealth encounters dropped to 16.8 in June 2020, fluctuated between 8.8 and 16.6 afterward, and ended at 8.8 in June 2021, higher than the prepandemic levels. Patients who were aged 18 to 35 years, women, and living in urban areas had higher percentages of telehealth encounters than those who were aged 35 to 64 years, men, and living in rural areas, respectively. The mean (95% CI) telehealth and in-person outpatient encounter costs per visit were $112.8 (95% CI, $112.4-$113.2) and $161.4 (95% CI, $160.4- $162.4), respectively. Conclusions There were large fluctuations in telehealth and in-person outpatient encounters during the pandemic. Our results provide insight into increased telehealth use among patients with cardiovascular disease after telehealth policy changes were implemented during the pandemic.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease; heart disease; stroke; telehealth; telehealth outpatient cost.