Increased Importance of Telehealth Physical Therapy post Pandemic
Adoption of Telehealth Physical Therapy
Telehealth physical therapy has been highly adopted by the vulnerable patient population as well as those who prefer the convenience of care at home. During a pandemic, telehealth physical therapy has evolved and overcome its limitations. For example, the precise movements and exercises involved in physical therapy rehab are hard for a patient to accomplish remotely. A provider on a video call may seem about as valuable as a YouTube video. But there are new technologies and strategies that link patients, safely, to at-home physical therapy care that balances telemedicine with in-person visits. Many experts say this is the future of telemedicine: a hybrid of in-person and virtual care.
Telehealth physical therapy lets health systems and orthopedic groups bring outpatient physical therapy treatment to patients in lieu of forcing them to travel twice a week, in some cases more than five miles away, to obtain postoperative care. It also helps healthcare organizations improve the profitability of their rehabilitation services by expanding access to care, standardizing care to avoid surgical complications, improving adherence, enhancing patient experience, lowering costs, and reducing referral leakage. Telehealth physical therapy has provided new levels of flexibility in scheduling patients that open up capacity for those patients that need the resources that can only be found on the health system’s campus, or in a physical therapy clinic.
Not every PT visit is created equal, even within a single course of treatment. Some patients naturally require in-person, in-facility sessions, including all the associated equipment, space, and supervision. Others can work with a therapist in the comfort of their own home. Minimal equipment is needed and the context of assessing, treating, and exercising in the home setting actually enhances the experience. In other cases, the patient has previously learned routines under supervision, and a televisit may be appropriate. In these cases, a therapist is well positioned to monitor patient performance, observing movements and providing real-time feedback. There are also cases where the patient has performed most of the exercises before, and all they need is maintenance-level exercise. These on-demand sessions are convenient, allowing the patient to complete the routine when and where they want, with guidance provided via video.
Reasons to Consider Telehealth Physical Therapy
There are many reasons to consider telehealth physical therapy. Below we shared 6 reasons suggested by American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) for the same:
Telehealth can help patients stay connected with their physical therapist after initial in-person visits. Telehealth may also make it possible to connect with a physical therapist who is experienced in treating people with specific patient conditions or who is a board-certified clinical specialist, who may not be nearby a locality.
2. Home safety
If falling is a concern, a virtual telehealth appointment with a physical therapist is an opportunity to discuss ways to improve the safety of patients’ home. PTs also can discuss what patients should do if they fall.
3. Personalized care
During a private telehealth visit, patients will work one-on-one with their physical therapist, without distractions. They also can involve family members or caregivers in the appointment, if they want.
4. Success rates
As per the survey report, patients who take part in telehealth physical therapy are more likely to stick to their home exercise programs. A physical therapist can provide a safe and effective home exercise program to do at home based on the patient’s specific needs and goals. Sticking to a prescribed exercise program is a vital part of long-term health.
5. Time savings
There’s no waiting room. After the telehealth appointment, patients can quickly get back to what they were doing at home without having to spend time on the road.
A telehealth appointment reduces the burden of traveling to appointments. Telehealth works well for parents with a child at home, caregivers concerned about the physical demands of transporting their loved one, and those who don’t have easy access to transportation.
The majority of patients who have used telehealth physical therapy were satisfied with their experience and would do it again. Patients expressed feeling connected and supported by their telehealth physical therapist. Having this support at home while going through a rehab program is valuable. Studies also showed that telehealth physical therapy can result in equal or better outcomes.
Legion Healthcare Solutions is a leading medical billing company providing complete billing and coding services. We shared information on the increased importance of telehealth physical therapy post-pandemic for reference purposes. You can refer to state-specific and payer-specific telehealth policies before making a decision on adopting telehealth physical therapy services. If you need any assistance in physical therapy billing, contact us at 727-475-1834 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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