Our world has changed so drastically in the last few months as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on our communities.
As many of you know, we have had a quick move to providing physio and EP consults via telehealth over the last few weeks. This has been a big change for both clinicians and patients, but we want to continue giving you the best care possible while keeping everyone safe.
What is telehealth?
Simply put, telehealth refers to health services (in this case physiotherapy or exercise physiology) that are provided over a technology platform rather than face-to-face. There are a few different ways to deliver telehealth. The way we have chosen to deliver therapy is through videoconferencing as it is the closest available platform to face-to-face treatment.
Telehealth for education
While manual therapy is an important part of your treatment (and one that lots of you like!) it is certainly not the most critical component. Our primary duty as clinicians is to educate our patients and provide you with the tools to facilitate recovery – and this is just as feasible using telehealth as it is in a face-to-face setting.
We have often heard ‘but you can’t touch me’, when we discuss a potential Telehealth appointment with a client, however we can simulate what we would do manually by directing to you how to use implements and tools you have close at hand such as towels, belts and even rolling pins! It is amazing how effective this is, and not only effective but it is giving you long term tools to use yourself whenever you need them.
Telehealth is a great platform for delivering exercise physiology and exercise driven physiotherapy programs as we can prescribe and correct exercises in real time to get an equivalent result as we would in clinic, using tools you have in your own home.
What does the evidence say?
With telehealth becoming a more widely-used option for people living in remote areas (and even in cities, with ‘social distancing’ becoming the norm) there is a growing body of research on the topic. It turns out that hands on treatment may only be a small part of the bigger picture.
- A systematic review of 11 studies showed that telehealth via videoconferencing produced similar outcomes as face-to-face care in musculoskeletal conditions (for example, low back pain and shoulder pain) – so we can still provide you with a great outcome!
- There is a high level of agreement between tests done via telehealth and hands on tests in a face-to-face setting, for most tests that are used during a physical assessment – so you can be sure that we are still able to accurately assess your injury or condition.
- A recent review revealed that the most effective interventions for low back pain are patient self-management and therapeutic exercise – both of which can be provided over telehealth platforms!
What about Medicare, DVA, WorkCover and private health?
The great news is that all of the major health providers, Medicare, WorkCover and DVA have recognised the value of Telehealth services in these times and their role in keeping people safe.
So if you have an EPC, a DVA card, a WorkCover case or third party case, your Telehealth treatment is considered a valid form of therapy, and benefits will be paid. We are still bulk billing the majority of our Telehealth consults, with the exception of long appointments and appointments with our senior physiotherapists. Even better, we have reduced our private price by 20% as we want to support our community’s health during these difficult times.
Even when we get through our current crisis, the uptake of Telehealth will change the way that we practice physiotherapy in the long term. We understand that anything new brings challenges, and we also understand any scepticism, so if you have any questions we would welcome the chance to talk to you about it. We are so convinced that we can be effective that we will offer an initial 20 minute session free so that you can be assessed and make your own determination.
Call our office on 38053223 to discuss anytime, or contact us using the contact form below.