According to a research report in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, over half of mental health appointments are now being conducted remotely, primarily through videoconferencing instead of in-person visits. This shift to telemedicine allows patients to access care through technology, such as cellphones, video chats, computers, or tablets.
The study analyzed patient information from the Department of Veterans Affairs, covering outpatient visits made by 9 million veterans from January 1, 2019, to August 31, 2023. It found that the volume of telemedicine visits increased significantly after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing in-person visits. For example, in the first few months of the pandemic, in-person appointments for primary care and mental health care dropped from 81% to 23%. While phone-based care returned to pre-pandemic levels by spring 2023, video-based care remained close to its pandemic peak, representing a 2,300% increase from its pre-pandemic level.
The researchers noted that 55% of mental health care continues to be provided via telemedicine, likely due to the ease of adapting mental health services to virtual platforms. On the other hand, primary care and medical specialists’ care often require in-person evaluations, making telemedicine appointments less viable.
This information is part of The Washington Post’s “Big Number” series, which provides a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional details and relevant research can be found through the hyperlink provided.