FAIR Health Finds Use of Telehealth, Retail Clinics Grew 12% from 2017 to 2018


New data from the FAIR Health white paper show that from 2017 to 2018, telehealth use grew 12% and use of retail clinics grew 10%.

New data from the FAIR Health white paper show that from 2017 to 2018, telehealth use grew 12% and use of retail clinics grew 10%. However, the use of urgent care centers, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), and emergency departments (EDs) have all declined. Urgent care center use fell to 11%, ASC use fell 12%, and ED use fell to 15%, according to the data.

FAIR Health is a national, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to health care costs and health care insurance information. The findings come from the new FAIR Health white paper containing the third annual addition of FH® Healthcare Indicators and FH® Medical Price Index. This year’s edition is intended to “provide clarity to all health care stakeholders in a rapidly changing health care environment,” according to the company.

FH® Healthcare Indicators analyze trends involving different places of services or settings for health care in recent years, focusing mainly on alternative places of services. The organization evaluates changes in utilization, geographic and demographic factors, diagnoses, procedures, and costs.

Key findings of the white paper included a growth in utilization, although at a slower pace. For retail clinics and telehealth, there was a growth from 2013-2018, but at a much slower rate compared with 2012-2017. For urgent care centers, ASCs and EDs grew between 2009 and 2018, but was much slower between 2008 and 2017.

Urgent care centers, ASCs, and EDs experienced a decrease in rural and urban utilization from 2017 to 2018. However, retail clinics and telehealth experienced an increase of utilization in urban areas during the same time period, accompanied by a decrease in rural areas.

In 2018, the most common diagnostic category in retail clinics and urgent care centers was acute respiratory infections. In telehealth and individuals over the age of 22 in the ED, it was digestive system issues.

The 51-60 age group had the greatest share of claim lines in retail clinics and EDs in 2018. Meanwhile, urgent care centers and telehealth saw the greatest share of claim lines in the 31-40 age group.

In regard to the future of telehealth, it is expected to grow immensely from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Telehealth is expected to grow even more during the COVID-19 pandemic, in light of the need for expanded healthcare resources, and the need to avoid in-person contact that may promote disease transmission,” said Robin Gelburd, FAIR Health President, in an interview with Pharmacy Times®. “Consequently, some regulations restricting telehealth are being relaxed.”


Usage of telehealth and retail clinics grew from 2017 to 2018 while that of ERs, ASCs, and urgent care declined [news release]. New York, NY; PR Newswire: March 31, 2020. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/usage-of-telehealth-and-retail-clinics-grew-from-2017-to-2018-while-that-of-ers-ascs-and-urgent-care-declined-301031087.html. Accessed April 1, 2020.

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