Use of Telemedicine for Behavioral Health Increasing

Excellus BCBS report shows one third of those seeking behavioral health services do so through telemedicine Behavioral health services delivered via telemedicine now accounts for nearly one-third of all telemedicine visits, according to a review of 2019 claims data by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. In 2018, behavioral health services accounted for less than 25% of all telemedicine visits. The health plan serves more than 1.5 million members across 39 counties of Upstate New York. Telemedicine allows a health care provider to treat a patient by telephone or a secure, two-way video connection that is similar to Skype or FaceTime. Private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid pay for health care services delivered via telemedicine. Behavioral health services include treatment for mental health conditions and substance use disorders. The top mental health conditions for which health plan members seek telemedicine treatment are generalized anxiety disorders, major depressive disorders, dysthymic disorders, posttraumatic stress disorders and adjustment disorders. The use of telemedicine for behavioral health services also includes treatment of substance use disorders including opioid use disorders, alcohol use disorders and tobacco use disorders. The top specialists seen via telemedicine for behavioral health treatment include social workers, psychologists, counselors and nurse practitioners. “Patients are realizing that

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