BOISE — Blue Cross of Idaho says they've gone from practically no telehealth claims to nearly a quarter of all claims in the state being for telehealth services. Thee sizable jump helps provide essential care to thousands of Idahoans.
"We've seen a significant increase, close to 11,000% that we're seeing and roughly about 26-27% of all of our claims that we're processing are through telehealth now," said John Worley, vice president of provider network management for Blue Cross.
From January 27 to February 2, Blue Cross of Idaho says they processed 108 telehealth claims. From April 6 to April 19, that number shot up to 10,718. Blue Cross says that's 18 times more than the estimated weekly average for the first three months.
They've processed more than 90,500 claims since March 2020, and they're extending telehealth services until December.
"Basically, any service that can be provided appropriately by a provider through telehealth either audio or video setting, we've offered that as a benefit to our members, and we've seen a lot of Idahoans using that opportunity," said Worley.
Blue Cross says there's been a significant increase in behavioral health services via telehealth.
"We've seen folks in a tough situation right now during this pandemic have felt like they've needed this resources and they've been able to access those virtually, and that's been a very safe and effective way, but we've it across the board in almost all services that are appropriate for telehealth," said Worley.
Blue Cross says they're looking at national studies that measure the quality of care and patient satisfaction with telehealth. They believe it will remain consistent with the positive national trend.
"We absolutely believe this is an effective way to provide care in rural settings," said Worley,
"in fact, we think Idaho as a state is positioned exactly where it would be in order to be a leader in telehealth medicine," said Worley.
At the time of the interview, Blue Cross did not have the data for rural parts of the state but say their telehealth extension improves access to essential care rural parts of the state.
"There are a lot of specialists that don't have the ability to provide or don't have the locations to provide care in those rural communities, and a lot of people now are able to get access to better care through telehealth," said Worley.
Blue Cross of Idaho switched to offering telehealth at the same in-network price as an office visit, given the pandemic. They say they plan to keep it that way for now but could re-evaluate later on depending on the demand.