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Telemedicine increases even before pandemic: Report



Telemedicine is increasing as providers seek ways to see patients while keeping safe distances during the COVID-19 pandemic, but new data show the upward trend before 2020, according to an analysis published Wednesday by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

Boca Raton, Florida-based rating agency found that 3.7 out of 1,000 patients saw their providers via remote technology in 2019 – a steady increase from 1.4 in 2015. NCCI said it expects the number to increase dramatically, in line with overall health care trends, which is highlighted in the analysis.

With the pandemic that saw more than 200% increase in telemedicine utilization, such "services have rapidly changed from a less used alternative delivery of treatment to an important medical tool", the report states. “With potential benefits ranging from increasing healthcare efficiency to making specialists more readily available, this new alternative has the potential to positively impact the performance of an injured worker. Telemedicine also has limitations, such as lack of face-to-face, expensive implementation and potential privacy issues. "

Aiming to provide 'basic information' on the state of telemedicine services prior to the COVID 1

9 pandemic, NCCI said in its report that it has monitored temporary, emergency changes in government requirements that made it easier for providers to work with patients remotely. Such changes included the loosening of technical requirements for suppliers and the handling of fee schedules.

NCCI said it will continue to track the trend.

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