As we are faced with unforeseen challenges and technological advances, telehealth arrives as an important resource in a rapidly changing world. Although Telehealth was slowly implementing itself across the health industry, it’s acceptance as an integral solution to maintaining healthcare has been accelerated by the general population including the government, physiotherapists and the wider medical community.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is a service where the health practitioner and the client are interacting via audio-visual communication. This means completing your physiotherapy consult via mobile, tablet or computer whereby you can see and hear your physiotherapist, and they can see and hear you in real-time. This involves your physiotherapist sending you a link before the session that you simply click and follow the instructions, which can be done with your physiotherapist on the line to walk you through it. By continuing your physiotherapy via telehealth, we can ensure continuity of care for our patients. These consults can be supplemented with prescription of exercise sheets, websites or videos via the internet.
How Is Physiotherapy Different with Telehealth?
Due to the nature of video consults, the hands-on component of physiotherapy will make way for greater communication for assessment and exercise-based treatment. For subsequent sessions we can catch-up with how your symptoms/injury are progressing and how you’re travelling with your exercises. We can also see how you’re completing the exercises at home, making them even more relevant than showing you at the clinic.
How are our standards different?
They aren’t. We work with the same ethical principles as a regular face-to-face consult and we still rely on high-quality, safe assessment and treatment advice that are tailored for your specific condition. We also ensure full compliance with the same strict privacy and confidentiality protocols for each patient, that we would for in-clinic consultations, including careful consideration of data gathering and storage.
Telehealth Checklist - What do you need to set-up?
Select a space that is:
Large enough to perform a necessary tasks e.g. perform an exercise
Free from clutter and potential trip hazards
Private to reduce unwanted distractions and maintains a level of privacy and confidentiality
Ensure necessary furniture e.g. bed and chair, ensure equipment e.g. light weights are available
Eliminate as much background noise as possible – close doors/windows turn off television/radio; try to find a quiet room where possible
A headset with mic can be worn to further reduce background noise and maintain privacy and confidentiality
Physical spaces with soft furnishings (e.g. carpet) can minimize echoing and other audio distortions
Encourage backgrounds that are stationary and neutral in colour
A light source that is positioned in front and above the computer device may help to avoid glare and shadows
Encourage clothing that is plain and light in colour; clothes with heavy patterns or stripes can create visual distortions
As per an in-person consult, ensure that you are wearing clothing that allows for necessary movements and observation by your physiotherapist
Is it effective?
The best currently available research demonstrates Telehealth is a safe and effective solution to physiotherapy consults for a wide variety of conditions such as; tendon injuries, persistent pain and hip and knee arthroplasty, amongst several others, as reinforced by the Australian Physiotherapy Association.
This includes a systematic review and meta-analysis finding that telehealth was effective and comparable to conventional methods of healthcare for musculoskeletal conditions
(Cottrell MA Galea OA O’Leary SP et al. Real-time telerehabilitation for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions is effective and comparable to standard practice: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Rehabilitation 2017, May;31(5):625-38.) .