Telehealth has been a lifeline for clinics needing to care for patients during a pandemic, and many clinics transformed nearly overnight to use it. More than a year after the initial pandemic telehealth boom, researchers have found that patients are satisfied with their virtual visits and that they’re especially useful for certain types of specialty care, such as mental health visits.
Even so, our data shows that patients are steadily returning to in-person visits over telehealth, and that in-person visits could soon rise back to pre-pandemic levels. Below are three insights from visit trends – not including vaccination-related visits – across Luma Health customers since January 2020.
1. Telehealth helped visit volumes recover early in the pandemic
When the pandemic hit, total appointments at Luma Health customers plummeted to about half of the volume seen in January 2020 (which represents the baseline of the graph below.)
However, telehealth adoption increased rapidly from nearly 0% in January 2020 to representing 30% of all Luma Health appointments by April 2020. By July 2020, overall visit volumes recovered to more than 90% of pre-pandemic levels, indicating that telehealth visits helped make up lower volumes of in-person visits.
2. Telehealth visits have been dropping as more patients return to the clinic
The graph above shows that as states began relaxing some pandemic restrictions last summer, telehealth visits dropped from their peak and have continued to slowly decline in popularity. By June 2021, under 5% of visits were virtual across Luma Health customers.
As telehealth visits have gone down, the graph shows that in-person visits have gone up, indicating that more patients are transitioning from virtual visits back to office visits.
3. Appointment volumes are up, and cancellations are down
In April and May 2020, we saw a sharp rise in cancellations and a decrease in appointment confirmations that corresponds to the increase in telehealth visits. With in-person visits rising to nearly pre-pandemic levels, our data shows that cancellations are tapering off to pre-pandemic levels. In June 2021, 25% of appointments were canceled, about the same as in January 2021.
The data indicates that while telehealth has been a necessary resource to connect patients to care, especially early in the pandemic, patients and providers are eager to return to in-person visits. As your clinics continue the transition and look to maintain the added access and convenience of a telehealth option, Luma Health’s automated reminders and communication can help patients simply and easily manage their care – whether they’re coming in or logging in.