Telemedicine Use Increases But Still Uncommon

JAMA

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 11 A.M. (ET), TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2018

Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Michael L. Barnett, M.D., M.S., email Chris Sweeney at csweeney@hsph.harvard.edu. The full study is available on the For The Media website.

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Bottom Line: Laws passed in 32 states promote the use of telemedicine by mandating coverage and reimbursement. Telemedicine is the remote evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of patients using electronic communication. In this study, claims data from a large, private U.S. health plan were analyzed to estimate the growth in telemedicine from 2005 to 2017. Researchers report telemedicine use increased substantially during those years but was still uncommon by 2017. Annual telemedicine visits among all members in this health plan increased from 0.020 to 6.57 per 1,000 members between 2005-2017, with the largest increases in use beginning in 2015. Most telemedicine users lived in urban areas, although the attention given to telemedicine is often to encourage its use in rural settings. These data are from a single insurer whose population and policies may not be generalized to other populations.

Authors: Michael L. Barnett, M.D., M.S., Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and coauthors

To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2018.12354)

Editor’s Note:  The article includes funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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