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After initial spike, telehealth visits are on the decline, report finds

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund found a “plateau” in the growth of telemedicine visits, accounting for a relatively small percentage of rebounding ambulatory care services.

As states experiment with reopening – and re-closing – their economies in response to concerns around coronavirus, continuing attention has been paid to skyrocketing rates of telehealth visits.

But the report found that telemedicine visits have actually been declining since April, suggesting that health providers are still finding the best ways to provide virtual services.

“Telemedicine cannot replace all types of visits – for instance, in-person visits are still necessary to diagnose and test certain complex conditions,” said Commonwealth Fund SVP for policy and research Dr. Eric C. Schneider and VP for delivery system reform Tanya Shah in a blog post accompanying the report.

“While these results are from a sample of practices accounting for approximately 5 percent of ambulatory visits in the U.S., it seems likely that their experiences are typical, and most practices are facing similar challenges,” they said.

WHY IT MATTERS Fears around community transmission of coronavirus have led to a number of shifts in patient behavior, including forgoing in-person visits for nonemergency medical needs.Although this has led to an unprecedented growth in […]

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