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The use of telemedicine or telehealth has significantly increased in mental health appointments, with over 55 percent of appointments now being conducted remotely through videoconferencing rather than in-person visits. A study by the Department of Veterans Affairs analyzed patient information from January 1, 2019, through August 31, 2023, covering over 277 million outpatient visits by 9 million veterans. The study found that the volume of telemedicine visits increased significantly once the coronavirus pandemic began, becoming much more common than in-person visits.

During the first few months of the pandemic, in-person appointments for primary care and mental health care dropped from 81 percent to 23 percent. By spring 2023, phone-based care had returned to its pre-pandemic level, but video-based care had remained close to its peak during the pandemic, representing a 2,300 percent increase from its pre-pandemic level. Researchers noted that the majority of mental health care continues to be provided via telemedicine due to its ease of adapting to virtual platforms compared to primary care and medical specialists’ care that often requires in-person evaluations such as physical examinations.

This article is part of The Washington Post’s “Big Number” series offering a brief look at statistical aspects of health issues. Additional information and relevant research can be found through the hyperlinks provided.

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