Telemedicine Services Are Here to Stay Thanks to COVID-19, Shows Telehealth Billing Statistics

Telemedicine Services Are Here to Stay Thanks to COVID-19, Shows Telehealth Billing Statistics

The number of telehealth visits via real-time audio-video communication, as well as audio-only phone calls, skyrocketed in 2020, telehealth billing statistics show. This was due to the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 and stay-at-home orders nationwide. Providers conducted nearly half (43.5%) of Medicare primary visits via telehealth in April. This is compared to just 0.1% in February prior to the public health emergency (ASPE-HHS, 2020).

A survey from Updox shows that 42% of Americans have used telehealth since the pandemic began (2020). Of those who have used it, 82% say they loved/liked it. Sixty-five percent of those who like using telehealth say it is more convenient, while 63% report that they don’t have to worry about exposure to other patients who may be sick (Updox, 2020).

In the U.S., the number of general patients who have participated in at least one telehealth visit increased by 57% since the PHE, while the number of patients with a chronic illness increased by 77%, according to the “2020 State of Telemedicine Report” by Doximity (2020).

And it appears that telehealth won’t be going anywhere after the pandemic ends – 23% plan to continue to use telehealth, and 27% feel more comfortable visiting their physician with telehealth (Doximity, 2020). In fact, telehealth is anticipated to represent $29 billion of medical services and over 20% of all U.S. medical visits this year. This number will grow to $106 billion by 2023 (Doximity, 2020) and $130.5 billion by 2025 (Healthcare Finance, 2019).

The number of physicians who reported telehealth as a skill increased by 38% from 2019 to 2020 (Doximity, 2020). Doximity’s report also identifies the top 10 chronic illness specialties that providers treated via telehealth:

  1. Endocrinology
  2. Rheumatology
  3. Gastroenterology
  4. Nephrology
  5. Cardiology
  6. Urology
  7. Neurology
  8. Geriatrics
  9. Hematology/Oncology
  10. Pulmonology

How COVID-19 Changed the Healthcare Landscape

COVID-19 not only made telehealth services more popular, the pandemic also spurred the need for unprecedented changes to the way we deliver, code, and bill telehealth services altogether.

According to AMA, Medicare will pay physicians at the same rate for telehealth services as in-person visits for all diagnoses, not just COVID-19 related visits (2020). In addition, CMS permits physicians to waive or reduce cost-sharing for telehealth visits.

While participating in the telehealth visit, patients can be in their residence or other setting, and they do not need to have a previously established relationship with the physician (AMA, 2020). Furthermore, licensed physicians can see patients from different states.

Additional Information

If your facility needs assistance with deciphering the telehealth rules for coding and risk adjustment, contact YES HIM Consulting. You can get coding support from our HIM-credentialed experts.

Review these additional resources from our Telehealth Resource Center for more information about the telemedicine coding and billing guidelines during the PHE:

covid-19 and telehealth course

Do you need to learn how to code the COVID-19 vaccines or telehealth services? Enroll in the latest CPT Hot Topics learning series from YES HIM Education. This series dives into the HCPCS/CPT codes and guidelines for COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies, COVID-19 vaccines, and telehealth. We will also discuss payment policies for all three topics.

Mari Cely

Director, Business Strategy & Marketing
telehealth billing

Subscribe to our Newsletter


  • By clicking Submit, you agree to YES HIM Consulting's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.