This February, telehealth utilization saw its first month-over-month drop since September 2020. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is that mental health conditions continue to be the number one telehealth diagnosis across the nation.
Telehealth was used more for mental health conditions than any other diagnosis in February, according to FAIR Health, a nonprofit health care data collection organization.
For its findings, the organization compiled data from private insurance claims, excluding Medicare and Medicaid. Researchers categorized the data into four separate regions — the Midwest, Northeast, South and West.
Overall, mental health conditions accounted for a higher proportion of monthly telehealth utilization in February than in the month prior, increasing, on average, more than 3% for every region, with utilization in the Midwest ranking highest of all.
On the flipside, total telehealth utilization fell 16% nationally in February, plummeting across all four regions, with the biggest drop coming in the West.
Major depressive and generalized anxiety disorders were the top two mental health conditions treated virtually in February for all regions. In the Midwest, post-traumatic stress disorder entered the top five most commonly treated mental health conditions for the first time, as did substance use disorder (SUD).
Meanwhile, in the South, developmental disorders were a first-time, overall top five entry.
All this comes as data shows there’s higher prevalence of mental health conditions and SUDs amid the pandemic.
According to digital behavioral health company Tridiuum, 81% of behavioral health care providers said they began using telehealth services for the first time since February 2020, with 70% saying they plan to continue using telehealth post-pandemic.
State and federal governments have relaxed certain restrictions on virtual behavioral health care delivery during the pandemic, and in March, a bipartisan group in the House introduced legislation that if passed, among other things, could make some telehealth waivers at the federal level permanent.