Surgeon telehealth use declined in late 2020, but still exceeded pre-pandemic, study shows

Patsy Newitt -   Print  |

A newly released study shows surgeons' use of telehealth rose across all surgical specialties early in the pandemic. While rates declined as in-person care resumed, they remained above pre-pandemic levels.

The study analyzed insurance claims from 4,405 Michigan surgeons from Jan. 5, 2020, to Sept. 5, 2020. Compared with 2019 visit volume, telehealth only salvaged a small portion of 2020 surgical visits. 

Here are five takeaways:

  1. Among the surgeons, 58.8 percent performed telehealth in any patient context, and 26.8 percent used telehealth for new patient visits. 
  2. Telehealth use peaked in the week of April 12 and made up 34.6 percent of all new patient visits.
  3. From March 8 to June 6, 16.6 percent of all new patient surgical visits were conducted via telehealth, compared to 5.1 percent in 2019 during the same period.
  4. From June 7 to Sept. 5, only 3 percent of new patient surgical visits were conducted virtually, compared to 2.5 percent in 2019 during the same period.
  5. Prior to March 2020, less than 1 percent of new patient visits were conducted through telehealth.

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