Nature: Has Increased Telehealth Access During COVID-19 Led to Over-Utilization of Primary Care?

Over two years into the pandemic, the question of whether telehealth will lead to an increase in primary care utilization and spending has been met with contradictory answers. One study sought to examine whether there was a change in primary care utilization with the expanded availability of telehealth and found that that the average number of primary care visits per patient remained stable across patients on commercial insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. This suggests that the availability of telehealth did not result in additional primary care visits. Instead, telehealth may have served as a substitute for certain in-person encounters. They also found that telehealth use occurred more by patients with multiple primary care visits, suggesting that telehealth was mostly utilized by patients with complex medical needs.

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