What is Telehealth Physical Therapy?
Telehealth physical therapy uses technology to deliver an in-person treatment experience at a distance. Telehealth physical therapy is comparable to out-patient physical therapy in both its delivery and the breadth of orthopaedic conditions that your physical therapist can treat. The goals of your telehealth physical therapy session are no different than those of any other outpatient physical therapy here at Excel Rehabilitation:
- Get you out of pain.
- Improve your strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
- Optimize your physical daily function.
Telehealth physical therapy focuses on patient-centered outcomes for those individuals who might be unable to seek treatment in the office due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak or are deemed unnecessary for in office treatment due to the recent guidelines put in place . Telehealth physical therapy is not so different from your standard outpatient Physical Therapy, visit except that you can enjoy the session from the comfort of your own home, in your office, or if you are on-the-go. Your physical therapist is an expert in movement and musculoskeletal dysfunction. They will guide you through stretching, exercises, potential modalities that can improve your overall physical well-being, and implement/progress a home exercise program. The biggest limitations to maximizing outcomes with telehealth physical therapy are the creativity of you and your therapist.
Telehealth physical therapy is going to require a slightly different focus during your physical therapy session. When you undergo a telehealth session for physical therapy, your physical therapist is not going to be able to lay their hands on you. Physical therapy is often focused on the use of manual therapy and the laying on of hands, when this is not possible you have to have a physical therapist who is an expert in treating your condition.
What do I need for a Telehealth Physical Therapy Session?
The most important piece of equipment for a Telehealth physical therapy session is YOU! But that's not any different than your standard outpatient physical therapy appointment in the clinic. Platforms for the delivery of Telehealth physical therapy differ across providers. At Excel we use a secured, encrypted, real-time audio and video experience over an internet connection (Doxy.Me). So, for a telehealth physical therapy session you will need an internet-enabled device that has a camera and microphone so that we may see, hear, and speak to you.
For some of our patients, this connection is completed on their smartphone with a set of headphones, for others they prefer the larger screen of their tablet, and for still others the ability to navigate with their webcam on their laptop or desktop computer has presented the best experience. Our expert providers can help you navigate the technical decisions you may need to make to get the most out of your telehealth physical therapy experience.
How is a Telehealth Physical Therapy Session Conducted?
There are a variety of telehealth or teleconferencing. Excel Rehabilitation has chosen to use a platform called Doxy.Me. A secure, HIPAA-compliant platform that allows you to participate in a telehealth physical therapy session in front of a computer, on a tablet, or even from your smartphone.
The actual telehealth physical therapy session is going to be very similar to a standard in office session. Your physical therapist will ask you questions related to your goals, your current condition, and any limitations that are currently preventing you from achieving your goals. A physical examination is obviously not going to be done in quite the same manner as an in-person evaluation. Manual muscle testing, for example, can't be done by a physical therapist restricting your movement. Instead vocal feedback about the movements that improve or worsen your pain or dysfunction will be necessary, and your description of what you are feeling will be very important.
Is Telehealth Physical Therapy Effective?
Advances in telehealth, and physical therapy in general, now allow us to deliver a safe and effective method of treating your pain and musculoskeletal dysfunction. Some patients do need more manual focus (hands on therapy) and in those cases we recommend our patients consider in office visits.
Telehealth physical therapy is very effective. Your physical therapist is a skilled practitioner who can deliver your plan of care remotely and guide you as the patients through an online home exercise program. Telehealth physical therapy will incorporate a quality home exercise program with regular follow-up, so that you can get safe, efficient, and effective relief of your pain and dysfunction.
Is Telehealth Physical Therapy Safe?
YES.. Telehealth is a safe and effective method of delivering your outpatient Physical Therapy needs. Excel treats the safety of our patients as our number one concern. If you are already a patient, or have walked into our clinic, you have already experienced this. You know that at Excel, we pride ourselves on delivering the highest level of care in the safest possible manner. If we couldn't do this with telehealth, we wouldn't have implemented it.
What About the Safety of My Personal Data (HIPAA Compliance)?
In order to provide Telehealth physical therapy to our patients, Excel must abide by strict HIPAA compliance policies. We take your personal information seriously. This is why we use an encrypted, secure platform to deliver our telehealth physical therapy sessions.
What Can a Physical Therapist Treat During a Telehealth Session?
A physical therapist treating through telehealth is bound only by their creativity and the creativity of their patient. Certainly, the equipment available to a physical therapist in the clinic setting may not be readily available in a patient's home or office setting. In this case, we may lose some efficiency for the sake of convenience, but that doesn't mean that a patient cannot be treated much like they complete their home exercise program.
Should I do Telehealth Physical Therapy?
This question is best answered one-on-one with your physical therapist. However, telehealth physical therapy can provide you a high-quality, effective, and safe physical therapy experience. There are certain conditions that may best be served in person. The best example of this are those patients that require care following surgery, a recent fracture, or those requiring more manual treatment for increased range of motion or hands on soft tissue work.
Are Telehealth Physical Therapy Sessions Covered by my Insurance?
This is a great question. Unfortunately, without verifying your personal benefits we're not sure. The good news is Excel Rehabilitation is glad to do a free insurance verification check to find out. If your insurance carrier does not offer a telehealth physical therapy benefit, that does not mean you are out of luck. You can speak with your policy provider to see if telehealth can be added to your policy. Or we would be happy to speak with you about our alternative payment options or working out a payment plan if the patient must ultimately pay out of pocket for their visits.
What Paperwork do I need to fill out for a Telehealth Physical Therapy Session?
A telehealth physical therapy session will not differ much from your traditional outpatient physical therapy session when it comes to necessary paperwork. Your physical therapist is still going to want to know your medical history, the reason for your session, and your goals for physical therapy. They will have you fill out an outcome measure that will enable them to judge your progress during physical therapy.
There are, however, a couple of things that will differ when it comes to paperwork for a Telehealth physical therapy session:
- Consent to treatment via Telehealth
- Acknowledgement of a private space to complete the session
Are there Restrictions on Telehealth Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy provided through telehealth has many of the same considerations as physical therapy in the office. However, not all insurance plans will cover telehealth physical therapy, or there may be reductions in the duration of care. Telehealth physical therapy is, however, covered under direct access laws in Virginia. In some instances Telehealth physical therapy may have to be paid out of pocket, but your best course of action is to check with your insurance carrier (we can assist with this). If you have a plan through your employer that does not cover telehealth physical therapy, you may want to speak with your human resources department about including it in your policy in the future.
What Should I Do if I Need Care?
If you are experiencing pain, loss of function, or limitations in your ability to carry out your normal activities of daily living give our office a call and inquire. We will help guide you through the process and discuss which mode of treatment best fits your needs and limitations, whether it be telehealth physical therapy or in office treatment. We can help answer any questions, investigate insurance coverage, and discuss what the best plans is. We are here for you! All it takes is a phone call to have us help start the process to get you on the road to recovery.