Telemedicine: Patterns of Use and Reimbursement—A WCRI FlashReport

By Rebecca (Rui) Yang, Olesya Fomenko

December 16, 2021 Related Topics: Access to Care, COVID 19, Fee Schedules, Physical Medicine

With telemedicine rising as an important alternative for access to care during the pandemic, this WCRI FlashReport examines the utilization patterns of telemedicine services and the prices paid for these services in workers’ compensation systems across states during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report focuses the two types of medical services with the most prevalent use of telemedicine: evaluation and management and physical medicine services. It investigates the patterns of telemedicine utilization among these services in workers’ compensation during the early months of the pandemic (primarily March–June 2020) 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 77 percent of the workers’ compensation benefits paid nationwide.

Telemedicine: Patterns of Use and Reimbursement—A WCRI FlashReport. Olesya Fomenko and Rebecca Yang. December 2021. FR-21-04.



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Research Questions:

  1. What shares of the total evaluation and management and physical medicine services were delivered to workers with injuries via telemedicine during the early months of the pandemic (March–June 2020)? Did the prevalence of telemedicine use vary across the study states?
  2. How did prices paid for telemedicine compare with the prices paid for in-person services for the most common procedures received by workers with injuries? Were there interstate variations in these price comparisons?
  3. What percentage of non-COVID-19 claims received telemedicine services? Did this metric vary by state? 
  4. 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?
  5. Did telemedicine utilization patterns vary across medical conditions?

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