HumanInsight Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Online Use of Video Consultation by General Practitioners in Germany - a Secondary Data Analysis of German Health Insurance Data
Gesundheitswesen. 2023 Jan 24. doi: 10.1055/a-1999-7390. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: In order to manage the Covid-19 pandemic in Germany in March 2020, the government implemented non-pharmaceutical interventions including school closures, case-based measures, social distancing, and a ban of all public events. Under these circumstances, professional societies and associations in the healthcare sector recommended the use of video consultations. The objective of this analysis was to generate statistically relevant insights into the use of video consultations before and during the Covid-19 pandemic METHODS: This study is based on the analysis of a comprehensive claims data set comprising anonymized data of 5.6 million beneficiaries of a large German health insurance fund. The dataset encompassed healthcare claims from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020 covering 29,464,913 patient contacts. The claims were divided into video consultations and face-to-face consultations. This paper presents descriptive statistics and analyses associations between variables.
RESULTS: In 8,077 out of all contacts, a video consultation had taken place. This translates into 3.12 of 10,000 contacts. There was no significant difference in the utilization of video consultations by gender. However, the age differed significantly (Chi-square:2280.01, Sig: 0.000) between the contacts with or without use of video consultation. There is a significant increase of up to 27 times the use of video consultation in the first lockdown compared to the same month in 2019.
CONCLUSIONS: Apparent higher usage of telemedicine by patients in the age group 50 to 64 years and the very low usage in the group of 65 to 74 years shows that the use of video consultation is age sensitive and should be subject to goal-oriented implementation of telemedical offers. The observed increase, however, is small relative to the total number of patient contacts and is not significant. Thus, there is no evidence in this large dataset to support the claim that video consultation had risen dramatically through the Covid-19 pandemic. Qualitative research to determine the factors for patients and general practitioners that lead to or hinder the use of video consultation should help in addressing the slow digitalization in the outpatient sector in Germany.
PMID:36693392 | DOI:10.1055/a-1999-7390
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