The Health Information Technology, Evaluation, and Quality Center (HITEQ) published an analysis on the performance of clinical quality measure for certain services by health centers who use telehealth to provide remote clinical care services compared to health centers that do not. According to the HITEQ Center analysis of data from the 2017 Uniform Data System (UDS) survey, health centers who use telehealth reported on average a slightly higher clinical quality measure performance for certain services than health centers who did not use telehealth—an indicator that the use of telehealth is at least comparable to in-person delivered care, if not slightly better.
The UDS is an annual reporting system that surveys health centers and “look-alike” centers. It collects data on a variety of information, including patient demographics, services provided, clinical processes and results, patients’ use of services, costs, and revenues that document the health centers’ performance. This data is reviewed by various organizations and policy makers to evaluate health centers’ performance, identify trends and to construct solutions to improve long-term patient health outcomes.
In the 2017 UDS, respondents were asked whether they “use telehealth in order to provide remote clinical services,” defining telehealth as “the use of telecommunications and information technologies to share information, and provide clinical care, education, public health, and administrative services.”
Out of 1,373 health centers surveyed, 600 (43.70%), responded: “yes” to using telehealth. The types of services provided via telehealth varied.
According to the full 2017 UDS National Report:
- 20.83% used telehealth to provide primary care services,
- 27.33% used telehealth to provide specialty care services,
- 52.33% used telehealth to provide mental health services,
- 6.17% used telehealth to provide oral health services,
- 24.50% used telehealth to manage patients with chronic conditions, and
- 23.33% used telehealth for other services not listed.
In comparing the clinical quality measures numbers of clinics using telehealth to those who did not, HITEQ Center noted that the performance of health centers who used telehealth in 2017, averaged 1.18% higher in clinical quality measures on all services they examined. While the difference was only slight, this demonstrates a positive correlation between the use of telehealth and outcomes and shows there is not a reduction in quality when telehealth is utilized compared to in-person delivered services.
For more information on this subject review the full 2017 National Report and visit the HITEQ Center’s website to download the full report, “Analysis of UDS Clinical Quality Measure Performance by Health Center Telehealth Use”.