The adoption of telemedicine was much higher for encounters with diagnoses of behavioral health conditions (anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder) than for other chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. In fact, telemedicine encounters accounted for over half of all visits for patients diagnosed with anxiety and depression during the pandemic (56% and 53% respectively).
Telemedicine adoption for various types of cancer (breast, colorectal, and lung cancers) was minimal (2% or less), reflecting the challenges of using telemedicine for treating conditions that require in-person care.
And there were notable decreases in encounters for chronic conditions requiring regular management such as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, asthma, and diabetes. Each of those four conditions saw at least a 66% decrease in encounter volume during the analysis period, indicating many patients with those chronic conditions may have fallen behind in their care management and may have complications in the future as a result.
Telemedicine will continue to play a crucial role in connecting patients to care during the current resurgence of the pandemic as Colorado heads into winter. Nuanced examinations of who is using it – and how – will help ensure that more Coloradans have access to the care they need. CHI’s research suggests that additional investment in telemedicine infrastructure, including broadband and technology access, remote patient monitoring, and the development of new care processes, will increase the value of telemedicine to improve care for Coloradans.
Want to know more? CHI’s reports examine this data in depth and also offer insights from dozens of interviews with providers and patients about their experiences with telemedicine during the pandemic.
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