Physical therapy telehealth solutions are a reality.
Unfortunately, the physical therapy profession traditionally isn’t very progressive.
We are often reactionary and slow to adopt new technology.
This puts us behind the curve.
It also allows more progressive providers the chance to provide care to our prospective patients.
Let’s not fear the future and dig our heels into the old model.
Our challenge is to figure out how we can best use physical therapy telehealth solutions to reach new populations.
We need to quit focusing on the short term busyness of modern physical therapy.
Let’s look to future opportunities.
And when it comes to technology, it is not a matter of “if” but “when” for your practice.
You will need to adopt new systems that fit the demands and expectations of patients who now are paying more out of pocket and arranging their own care than ever before.
Help has arrived in the form of physical therapy telehealth solutions
I (and many others) believe telehealth is the next frontier of medicine.
The old model of waiting in doctor’s offices to manage basic care issues and chronic conditions is a huge burden for patients.
As stated, patients are expecting more from their providers.
Resources such as physical therapy telehealth solutions can help.
To that end, there is promising early research that suggests telehealth improves the patient experience and satisfaction.
Also, the armed forces and VA are already successfully using this approach to provide better care.
Physical Therapy Telehealth Primer: Synchronous vs Asynchronous Solutions
Physical therapy telehealth solutions can be synchronous (provider and patient interact in real time on a live feed) or asynchronous (aka “store and forward” where patients and providers access data such as videos, reports, and messages whenever it works best for them).
Synchronous telehealth helps to reach populations that either wouldn’t have access to healthcare (rural populations) or for those that have difficulty getting into a traditional medical office (homebound patients).
The main limitations to this approach is that both patient and provider have to be available at the same time and have to have the system working properly.
Streaming services can have technical glitches and user errors can throw a wrench into your meeting times.
The providers I know utilizing this option are using services like Skype, which are subject to security and connection issues at times.
Can you imagine the frustration of your connection dropping right in the middle of your doctor’s visit?
Asynchronous telehealth cuts down these barriers and allows for patients to get the healthcare they need at a time that works best for them.
Looking back on my career in outpatient and home health settings, I can identify many times where this option would have made a huge difference. (I recently wrote about one particular scenario that will likely ring true for you.)
Don’t get left behind when it comes to physical therapy telehealth solutions
I encounter PT business owners who say things like, “That sounds great, but I just don’t have the time to look into physical therapy telehealth solutions and technology like that.”
If that sounds like something you’d say, here’s my response: You can’t afford not to look into this.
Those that are slow to adapt get left behind. If you want to be a successful provider in the new digital age, you need to spend the time right now not in a year or two.
- VA telehealth services: http://www.telehealth.va.gov/
- How the Army is already using telehealth: http://armymedicine.mil/Pages/telehealth.aspx
- User satisfaction of telehealth: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22703378
- Examples from the physician perspective: http://www.realclearhealth.com/articles/2016/11/02/scaling_up__jason_hwang_and_asynchronous_telemedicine_110219.html
- Asynchronous telehealth in rural settings and developing countries: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20111222/Asynchronous-telemedicine-can-improve-healthcare-delivery-in-rural-areas.aspx
- Why Telemedicine’s Time Has Finally Come (Forbes): http://www.forbes.com/sites/zinamoukheiber/2015/01/13/why-telemedicines-time-has-finally-come/#302168ec6ce0