Persistent demand for mental health care via telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, new FAIR health study finds


Newly published study provides window into changing contours of telehealth using more than two years of private healthcare claims data from FAIR Health Monthly regional telehealth follow-upa free online tool that tracks month-over-month changes in telehealth since the spring of 2020. Focusing on the time period from January 2020 at March 2022, brief reports on monthly changes in telehealth use, major diagnoses, and major procedure codes—in addition to other descriptive aspects of this place of care—at the national and regional levels (Midwest, Northeast , South West). Supported by infographics with vivid data visualizations, the dossier also shows how monthly regional telehealth monitoring itself has evolved to meet the needs of health actors.

Among the main results:

  • Of March 2019 at March 2020the percentage of national telehealth claim lines to all medical services increased by 4,347%.1 The increase was even greater from April 2019 at April 2020 (8,336 percent).
  • The top five telehealth diagnoses nationally in spring 2020 indicated that telehealth was used for conditions that were not in the top five the previous year, including high blood pressure, joint/tissue diseases and problems soft and developmental disorders.
  • In November 2020, COVID-19 first appeared on one of the regional lists of the top five telehealth diagnoses, ranking fourth in the Midwest; in December 2020COVID-19 has become one of the leading telehealth diagnoses nationally and in all regions.
  • For 6 of the 12 months of 2021, telehealth use has dropped from the previous month’s level of use. Nevertheless, it remained much higher than before the pandemic. In December 2021telehealth claim lines accounted for 4.9% of medical claim lines nationally, compared to 0.2% in December 2019.
  • Many changes in the use of telehealth were likely related to the evolution of the pandemic. For example, in the spring and summer of 2021, telehealth request lines dropped as vaccination levels increased. In the fall and winter of 2021, however, telehealth use increased again, as the Delta and Omicron variants led to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
  • Mental health issues have been the most common telehealth diagnosis nationally throughout the pandemic. According to this conclusion, in January 2022, social worker was the provider specialty offering the most telehealth services (most often psychotherapy) nationally and in all regions except the West. In each region, as in the country as a whole, three of the top five provider specialties were related to mental health: social worker, psychiatrist and psychologist.
  • In January 2022CPT®2 90837, one hour of psychotherapy, ranked first among telehealth procedure codes nationally and in every region.

President FAIR Health Robin Gelburd said, “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has become an important component of the country’s healthcare system. We hope this brief will provide actionable and relevant information to healthcare stakeholders, including policy makers, researchers, payers, providers and consumers. — seeking to better understand telehealth as it continues to evolve. »

On Wednesday June 22of 2-3 p.m. ET, Ms. Gelburd will host a webinar titled “Use of Telehealth Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Two-Year Retrospective,” which will provide insight into how telehealth has evolved since winter 2020 using FAIR Health’s comprehensive collection of telehealth data. Click on here to register for the free one-hour webinar.

For the new brief, click on here.

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About FAIR Health

FAIR Health is an independent, national, nonprofit organization that qualifies as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. It is dedicated to the transparency of health care costs and health insurance information through data products, consumer resources, and support for health systems research. FAIR Health has the largest collection of private healthcare claims data in the nation, which includes over 36 billion claim records and is growing at a rate of over 2 billion claim records per year. FAIR Health licenses its privately billed data and data products, including reference modules, data visualizations, custom analytics, and market indices, to commercial insurers and self-insurers, employers, providers, hospitals, and health systems, government agencies, researchers and others. Certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a National Qualified Entity, FAIR Health also receives data representing the experience of all enrollees in traditional Medicare Parts A, B, and D; FAIR Health includes among the private claims data in its database, data on Medicare Advantage enrollees. FAIR Health can produce insightful analytical reports and data products based on combined Medicare and commercial claims data for government, providers, payers and other authorized users. FAIR Health’s systems for processing and storing protected health information have achieved HITRUST CSF certification and have achieved AICPA SOC 2 compliance by meeting the rigorous data security requirements of these standards. A testament to the reliability and objectivity of FAIR Health’s data, the data has been incorporated into the nation’s laws and regulations and designated as an official, neutral data source for a variety of state health programs, including workers’ compensation and injury protection. (PIP). FAIR Health data serves as an official benchmark in support of certain state balance billing laws that protect consumers from surprise out-of-network and emergency service bills. FAIR Health also uses its database to power a free consumer website available in English and Spanish, which allows consumers to estimate and plan their health expenses and offers a rich educational platform on health insurance. An English/Spanish mobile app offers the same educational platform in a concise format and links to costing tools. The website has been honored by the White House Summit on Smart Disclosure, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), URAC, eHealthcare Leadership Awards, appPicker, Employee Benefits News and Kiplinger’s personal finances. FAIR Health is also named one of the top resources for patients in Dr. Marty Makary’s book The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care and How to Fix It and Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal’s book An American Disease: How Health Care Became Big Business and How You Can Reclaim It. For more information about FAIR Health, visit

Rachel Kent
Senior Marketing Director
FAIR Health
[email protected]

1 A claim line is an individual service or procedure listed on an insurance claim.
2 CPT © 2021 American Medical Association (AMA). All rights reserved.



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