Texas Workers’ Compensation Saw Telemedicine Services Skyrocket During Pandemic

By | October 22, 2021

Utilization of telemedicine services in the Texas workers’ compensation rose dramatically during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recently published report from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI).

The report, “Evaluation of Telemedicine Services in the Texas Workers’ Compensation System 2018-2021,” shows that there were 21,086 claims using telemedicine between March 13, 2020, and July 31, 2021.

Less than 1% of claims receiving professional medical services received telemedicine pre-pandemic but increased to 7% of claims during the pandemic.

The TDI’s Division of Workers’ Compensation expanded access to telemedicine services on Sept. 1, 2018 and reported 951 claims receiving telemedicine services pre-pandemic.

In March 2020, more than 2,300 telemedicine services were reported. The number of telemedicine services peaked in April 2020 at 12,743. During the pandemic, more men and older injured employees received telemedicine services, the report said. Office visits were the most frequently used telemedicine service before and during the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, the workers’ compensation industry had begun to embrace telemedicine as an efficient and cost saving alternative to in-person doctor’s visits. A National Council on Compensation Insurance preliminary analysis of 2020 workers’ compensation claims found that the pandemic accelerated the use of telemedicine. The share of active claims with at least one telemedicine service grew to approximately 14% in the second quarter of 2020, the NCCI found.

In Texas, men accounted for 60% of telemedicine services use during the pandemic. Those aged 45 to 54 years made up the highest age demographic at 29%, followed by 35 to 44 year-olds (26%) and 25 to 34 year-olds (19%).

A total of 484 insurance carriers processed medical bills for telemedicine services performed from September 2018 through July 2021. Commercial carriers processed 80% of pandemic telemedicine services, followed by political subdivisions (17%), like counties, municipalities, and school districts.

There were more than 61,000 billed telemedicine services in 2020, amounting to $11,261,000 in total charges and $4,920,000 in paid claims. Through the first seven months of 2021, there were 17,900 billed services, resulting in $3,600,000 in total charges and $1,937,000 in paid claims.

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.

Topics COVID-19 Texas Workers' Compensation Talent Medical Professional Liability

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