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Chronic Pain Patients Find Telehealth Cost Effective

October 22nd, 2020

Telehealth continues to demonstrate its popularity, this time among people suffering with chronic pain.

At their annual meeting this month, itself held online, anesthesiologists heard that patients who met with their pain specialist remotely were overwhelmingly satisfied with the experience.

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Conducted by the UCLA Comprehensive Pain Center in Los Angeles, the survey period began in August 2019, long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients at the pain center were given the option of in-office or remote appointments by video or phone. The 1,398 patients who chose the remote options had a cumulative 2,948 virtual appointments.

According to an account of the study by Healthcare Finance the virtual meetings saved patients both time and money. Half saved at least 69 minutes commuting and a roundtrip of 26 miles or more. They also saved a median $22 in gas and parking fees for each virtual visit.

Initial visits for new patients or existing patients with new conditions were best served by in-person office appointments, the report said. Thereafter, follow-up appointments could be conducted remotely. Anesthesiologists participating in the conference estimated that up to 50% of visits could be virtual.

Before the pandemic, telehealth growth was limited by rules limiting the types of visits Medicare and Medicaid and private insurers would reimburse. Those limits were waived during the pandemic, resulting in a rapid expansion of virtual medical consults.

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