Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new Medicare Telemedicine Data Snapshot with information on Medicare beneficiaries who utilized telemedicine services during the pandemic period (between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021). According to the snapshot, 28 million Medicare beneficiaries utilized telemedicine services during this time period, over 30 times the number of users as the prior year (March 2019 to February 2020). The data for the Snapshot comes from Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) claims data, Medicare Advantage (MA) encounter data, and Medicare enrollment information.
Telemedicine is the exchange of medical information from one site to another through electronic communication to improve a patient’s health. Prior to March 2020, Medicare paid for these services under limited circumstances, with telemedicine services restricted to rural or health professional shortage areas, established patients, and certain types of providers. In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, CMS greatly expanded telemedicine services to increase access to care. While these expansions lead to large increases in telemedicine use, the extent of the increase varied across geographic and demographic groups. These differences may be driven by a number of factors, including access to broadband internet, varying state-level policies on the delivery of telemedicine across state lines and the timing and degree to which the pandemic affected geographic areas differently.
To view the new Medicare Telemedicine Data Snapshot visit: https://www.cms.gov/medicare-telemedicine-snapshot.
For additional details on Medicare telemedicine expansions, please visit https://telehealth.hhs.gov.
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