Virtual doctor appointment According to CMS data, there was a 63-fold increase in telehealth utilization in 2020 by Medicare enrollees. (Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock.com)

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided a better understanding of the massive increase in the utilization of telehealth services during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found that there was a 63-fold increase in telehealth utilization in 2020 by Medicare enrollees, from approximately 840,000 telehealth visits in 2019 to nearly 52.7 million in 2020.

“Compared with <1% telehealth use in 2019 across all categories, telehealth increased to 8.3% of all primary care visits and 2.6% of specialist visits in 2020,” the study said. “Visits to behavioral health specialists saw the largest increase in telehealth use during the pandemic, with 38.1% of all visits to these providers delivered by telehealth, compared with 1% in 2019.”

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