Telehealth Use Among Medicare Patients Limited but Growing
Use of telehealth among the Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries increased between 2014 and 2016, though the overall rate of adoption is still very limited, according to a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report, Information on Medicare Telehealth. In 2016, almost 90,000 Medicare FFS beneficiaries utilized 275,199 telehealth services, representing one-quarter of a percent (0.25 percent) of the more than 35 million FFS Medicare beneficiaries included in the analysis.
Significant growth in utilization occurred among the oldest population—beneficiaries 85 years and older. A majority of all beneficiaries using telehealth had at least one mental health diagnosis, and psychotherapy is among the services most commonly furnished through telehealth. Finally, data suggest that the use of telehealth services is concentrated in states that have large rural areas, many of which are also designated as Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSAs). The ten states with the highest utilization of telehealth services are Texas, Iowa, California, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky
Top Ten Principal Diagnoses for Medicare Beneficiaries Receiving Telehealth Services, 2016