Changes in the use of telehealth and face-to-face chiropractic care at the Department of Veterans Affairs before and after the COVID-19 pandemic

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J Manipulative Physiol Ther. December 18, 2021: S0161-4754(21)00111-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2021.12.002. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to describe the use of face-to-face and telehealth chiropractic care in the US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) before and after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was performed of VHA administrative data, including the monthly number of unique patients and visits for face-to-face chiropractic care and telehealth (synchronous video or telephone) from October 1, 2019 to October 31, 2019. March 2021.

RESULTS: During the pre-pandemic phase (October 2019 to February 2020), an average of 28,930 (SD 289) total monthly visits were made in person (99.9%). In March 2020, the total number of monthly visits decreased to 17.0% of the pre-pandemic average, 25.0% being face-to-face, with a more than 200 times increase in telehealth visits (to 1331 visits) compared to the pre-pandemic average. April had the lowest number of in-person visits to (4,094). The May-October 2020 period showed that in-person visits increased by an average of 70.7% per month, while telehealth visits averaged 17.3% per month. From October to February 2020, the total number of monthly visits plateaued at an average of 22,250 (76.9% of the pre-pandemic average). Telehealth visits reduced to an average of 1,245 monthly visits over this 5-month period, a decrease of -5.6% in the average monthly visits. In March 2021, the total number of monthly visits (31,221) exceeded the pre-pandemic average for the first time since January 2020; 4.0% remained in telehealth.

CONCLUSION: In-person visits declined early in the pandemic, but increased after May 2020. Chiropractic telehealth use increased rapidly early in the COVID-19 pandemic and declined later, but remained slightly above pre-pandemic levels.

PMID:35249749 | DOI:10.1016/j.jmpt.2021.12.002

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