Fig 1. Data is from Definitive Healthcare’s Physician database and Medical Claims database. The table does not include Nursing subspecialties, which account for 206,922 telemedicine claims. Claims data is from calendar year 2020. Accessed March 2, 2021.
This breakdown isn’t particularly surprising. Even while quarantining and social distancing, people still got sick and managed chronic conditions, and they needed to see doctors. We also know that the pandemic caused a lot of stress for many individuals. Luckily, internal medicine and psychiatry providers were able to meet patients where they were — in their homes.
Healthcare providers and their patients got a lot more comfortable with delivering and receiving care over a computer screen or a mobile device. And this happened much more quickly than expected.
Why does it matter which physicians used telemedicine first?
This new information makes it easier to benchmark physicians against their peers. Understanding who is using telemedicine means you can identify early adopters — and who is lagging behind. These healthcare providers can now serve as experts, informing your business strategy.
The first physicians to embrace telemedicine understand which patients are good candidates for virtual medicine. They also know how to properly bill payors for their services and can anticipate common technological issues.
But you’re not just leveraging a physician’s knowledge — you’re also joining their network. Physicians may work at just one facility now, but they probably have a broad circle of peers at other health systems. Your team can establish a rapport with one physician expert. This expert is now your influencer, making is easier for you to gain the trust of your prospective accounts.
What about physicians who are not using telemedicine?
If you’re a technology vendor or someone whose product or service enables virtual care, then these physicians are your growth opportunities.
Physicians who are not yet using telemedicine, or who are not using it often, might be in the market for new technology. They could also need better training to understand the benefits of incorporating telehealth. Physicians who are already taking advantage of telemedicine may be looking for new and better ways to reach patients or advice on encrypting patient data.
Let’s look at an example.
Telemedicine Insights for Dr. John Smith
Fig 2. This image is a screenshot of the Technologies section of the physician profile for an anonymized physician. Data is from Definitive Healthcare Physicians database. Telehealth claims are charted and scored using all-payor medical claims and a proprietary algorithm. Claims are from calendar year 2020. Accessed March 2, 2021.
This image is from a profile of a psychiatric physician from Indiana, who we will call Dr. John Smith to protect his privacy. The chart tells us Dr. Smith didn’t start billing for telemedicine services until the beginning of 2020, which probably means he only began delivering care virtually after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
As the pandemic continues, Dr. Smith bills for telemedicine visits more frequently than his peers. The solid purple line shows Dr. Smith’s monthly telemedicine claim volume, while the dotted grey line shows the average telemedicine claims volume of his peers.
Even though his volume is higher than average, Dr. Smith is still a relatively new user of telemedicine. Because he has less than one year of experience delivering virtual care, his overall Definitive Healthcare telehealth score is relatively low.
Dr. Jones' telehealth score indicates that, even though his volume of telehealth claims is higher than other providers, he may be using telehealth for smaller percentage of his patients. Therefore, he has the opportunity to continue to expand his telehealth utilization.
There is no question that COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how doctors deliver care and how we, as patients, expect to receive it. We’re seeing new care delivery models emerge practically overnight, with corresponding new business models to support that care.
At Definitive Healthcare, we are proud to play a small part in helping providers, patients, and suppliers leverage these new care models to remove waste from the healthcare system and (perhaps) keep everyone just a little bit healthier.
Would you like to learn more about Definitive Healthcare’s physician data? Visit the Physicians Database & Insights page for a full picture of the U.S. care provider market.
Are you interested in our larger product expansion, launched at the end of February 2021? Visit the Rx Claims Expansion page.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Wright, Director of Product Development
Catherine Wright is the Director of Product Development at Definitive Healthcare. She first joined the company in 2014 as a Product Analyst, and has been driving our innovation ever since.