Telemedicine: Patterns of Use and Reimbursement, 2020Q1–2021Q2 — A WCRI FlashReport

By Rebecca (Rui) Yang, Olesya Fomenko

June 23, 2022 Related Topics: Access to Care, COVID 19, Fee Schedules, Utilization

Although COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have plateaued, it is commonly anticipated that the utilization of telemedicine will remain at levels higher than pre-pandemic. Multiple legislative actions at the federal and state level are being debated in order to streamline the process of delivering medical services via telemedicine and regulate the reimbursement for telemedicine services. For these reasons, the utilization and prices of medical services delivered via telemedicine remain important measures to monitor in workers’ compensation.

The FlashReport focuses on two types of medical services with the most prevalent use of telemedicine: evaluation and management (E&M) and physical medicine services. It investigates the patterns of telemedicine utilization among these services in workers’ compensation during the first five quarters of the pandemic (primarily March 2020–June 2021) across 28 states. It also examines the actual prices paid for the most frequent services delivered via telemedicine versus in person across the study states.

This report is based on a sample of workers’ compensation claims for private sector workers and local public employees (e.g., police and firefighters) from 28 states. The states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. These study states represent 79 percent of the workers’ compensation benefits paid nationwide.

Telemedicine: Patterns of Use and Reimbursement, 2020Q1–2021Q2 — A WCRI FlashReport. Olesya Fomenko and Rebecca Yang. June 2022. FR-22-02.



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Research Questions:

  • What shares of E&M and physical medicine services were delivered to workers with injuries via telemedicine during the first year and a quarter of the pandemic (March 2020–June 2021)? Did the prevalence of telemedicine use vary across the study states?
  • How did prices paid for telemedicine compare with the prices paid for in-person services? Were there interstate variations in these price comparisons?
  • What percentage of non-COVID-19 claims received telemedicine services? Did this metric vary by state and over time? Did this metric vary by claim maturity?
  • Was telemedicine used for initial services only, or was it used for continuous treatment?
  • Was the time elapsed from injury to treatment shorter or longer for telemedicine, compared with in-person services?
  • Did telemedicine utilization patterns vary across medical conditions?

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