The Impact Of Telemedicine On Medicare Utilization, Spending, And Quality, 2019-22

Health Aff (Millwood). 2024 May;43(5):691-700. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2023.01142. Epub 2024 Apr 17.

Abstract

Telemedicine use remains substantially higher than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, although it has fallen from pandemic highs. To inform the ongoing debate about whether to continue payment for telemedicine visits, we estimated the association of greater telemedicine use across health systems with utilization, spending, and quality. In 2020, Medicare patients receiving care at health systems in the highest quartile of telemedicine use had 2.5 telemedicine visits per person (26.8 percent of visits) compared with 0.7 telemedicine visits per person (9.5 percent of visits) in the lowest quartile of telemedicine use. In 2021-22, relative to those in the lowest quartile, Medicare patients of health systems in the highest quartile had an increase of 0.21 total outpatient visits (telemedicine and in-person) per patient per year (2.2 percent relative increase), a decrease of 14.4 annual non-COVID-19 emergency department visits per 1,000 patients per year (2.7 percent relative decrease), a $248 increase in per patient per year spending (1.6 percent relative increase), and increased adherence for metformin and statins. There were no clear differential changes in hospitalizations or receipt of preventive care.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare* / economics
  • Medicare* / statistics & numerical data
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Health Care
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine* / economics
  • Telemedicine* / statistics & numerical data
  • United States