Telehealth - What Is It, and How Can It Help Me?
Telehealth has been available to patients for a few years now, but it has exploded into the spotlight over the past few months. What is it, and how can it help you from a physical therapy standpoint?
Into The Unknown
Telehealth is a mechanism of healthcare delivery using audio and video communications between the patient and provider (MD, physical therapist, psychotherapist). It has long been used in services where hands-on contact is not a requirement or a minimal component. Psychotherapists have been using phone and video calls for years. More recently, MDs and Nurse Practitioners have been able to manage minor medical concerns via video call as well.
Previously, the technology needed was not readily available to the masses. While video calls had become standard on mobile phones, they were not a secure form of communication for HIPPA guidelines. Other video conferencing sites were too costly, and required significant lead time to coordinate. Advances in technology over the past year have made video calls more secure, financially viable, quick to schedule, and easy for the patient.
So - What Happens In A Session?
Virtual visits are scheduled in the same way your regular visits are scheduled. In most cases, telehealth sessions are covered by commercial insurances and Worker's Comp during the COVID-19 shutdown. Patients are often given a link in an email confirming the date and time. In the telehealth session, the patient and physical therapist are able to see each other in real time, discuss the patient's concerns and progress, assess body movements, perform specific orthopedic tests, and work through exercises. You can expect follow-up communications and updates to your Home Exercise Program afterwards.
How Can It Help Me?
There are many benefits to virtual PT sessions. Firstly, especially in the time of COVID-19, is safety. A telehealth visit allows you to limit your exposure with others. Secondly, virtual visits offer considerable convenience. In-person sessions require commuting to and from the clinic - so a virtual visit is very easy to fit into your busy schedule. Finally, telehealth PT allows you to continue your healing despite shutdowns. It is an opportunity to have questions answered, progress your exercises, and be accountable for your own health.
For many patients, the shutdown came at the beginning or middle of their rehabilitation. Many people have found that the lack of movement, increased sitting for work, inconsistent and interrupted exercise routines, and poor work arrangements at home have resulted in neck pain, back pain, or other body aches that weren't there a few months ago.
At MVMT, we are happy to offer physical therapy via telehealth! Our clinic is currently open for patients, and we can even offer a hybrid option, with a combination of in-clinic and virtual visits. For patients coming into the clinic, please see our COVID-19 page to understand our operating procedures and how we're working to keep you safe. If you're still unsure about telehealth, we're happy to offer our regular Free "No-Sweat" Discovery Visit virtually to show you how we can help. Contact us at (646) 430-5717 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule!
Mark M Lusk, DPT, OCS, CFMT