The use of telemedicine services in Texas increased in the pandemic and injured workers accounted for the majority of the injuries, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Workers Compensation Research and Evaluation Group at the Texas Department of Insurance.
Access to telemedicine services in Texas was expanded only for injured workers in 2018. To examine how these services were used and distributed in the COVID-19 pandemic, the TDI report compared their use and cost before and average pandemics. The report also compared telemedicine use for network and non-network claims.
Prepandemic, from 1 September 2018, to 12 March 2020, only 3% of claims that received professional medical services received at least one telemedicine service, a total of 951claims. From 13 March 2020 to 31 July 2021, the number of telemedicine services increased to 21,086 claims.
By and large, adults aged 45–54 used the most telemedicine services during the pandemic, the majority of whom were men and injured workers. Office visits were the most widely used telemedicine service before and during the pandemic. The cost increased the total payments for telemedicine services and the insurance companies paid about three quarters of the invoiced services, the report says.
Examination time for treatment, the average number of days from injury to initial telemedicine service was about six to seven weeks from April to September 2020, but decreased in 2021 to about three weeks.
Researchers note that they will monitor the use and cost of these services as the pandemic continues, and whether these services are performed in medically neglected geographic areas of the state.