As the transition to virtual means of communication rapidly spread across industries at the onset of the pandemic, telehealth services quickly came to the forefront as an option to access health care safely and efficiently. From the initial spike in utilization to looking ahead, Kelly Chillingworth, RPh, MHA-Ed, CGP, is monitoring the fluctuating trends in telemedicine utilization and its impact on employers’ pharmacy benefits through it all. She spoke again on the topic in an interview with BenefitsPro, sharing insights into how the virtual care model has changed prescription drug use and future expectations relating to pharmacy and telemedicine. The following is a brief excerpt; you can read the full article here.
What is the connection between prescription drugs and telemedicine?
Although telemedicine services were not new at the start of the pandemic, the demand for them increased during COVID-19. Restrictions on everyday health care services, including urgent care, routine checkups, and in-person mental health appointments, caused HR leaders to find efficient and attainable solutions to address member concerns over access to care. As a result, they had to increase the awareness of existing telemedicine benefits and, in some cases, potentially add or expand coverage for these types of remote services.
As some insurers began to offer telehealth coverage, we saw a rise in telehealth utilization among members. This increase in telehealth utilization has impacted medical and pharmacy benefit plans, and self-funded employers can attribute certain changes in prescription volumes to those encounters. Patients who saw their doctors via telehealth were triaged or diagnosed, often resulting in a prescription order. These orders were typically for acute medications to treat allergies and infections, but we also saw 90-day continuations of current medication(s) to treat existing conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Continue to the full article to finish reading Kelly’s interview on how prescription drug utilization and costs have changed in the age of telehealth.