In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many throughout the United States staying home in order to avoid contraction of the illness and to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, there has been an increased demand for telehealth services. These services act as an alternative to in-person healthcare. While it is true that telehealth existed prior to the rapidly evolving coronavirus, it was not covered by insurance companies for physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists. Today, it is emerging as a new trend among these professions. If you offer therapies in one of these specialties, you are sure to benefit immensely by offering telehealth options for your patients.
What is Telehealth?
According to the Health Resources Administration, telehealth is the utilization of electronic-based information and the combination of various types of telecommunications-based technologies in order to provide healthcare services, health-based education, and treatment to patients.
There are numerous technological strategies involved in ensuring optimal healthcare to patients. Current examples include the use of wireless communication devices, harnessing the power of videoconferencing, electronic file storage and sharing systems, streaming types of medica, and the World Wide Web. Telehealth may be used to provide both clinical and non-clinical services remotely.
What Do Patients Require for Telehealth Services?
Any patient is capable of taking part in telehealth services offered by a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, or a speech-language pathologist. In most instances, the patient you serve via telehealth will need their own email address and access to an electronic device that has a video feature and a microphone. In some cases, a patient only needs a telephone and the ability to communicate through a phone call – it all depends on the types of services and programs that you want them to participate in. For example, if you just want an update on their progress, a telephone will work fine. If you want them to practice certain exercises or perform specific occupations within the home, they will likely need to utilize telehealth with videoconferencing.
There are numerous benefits associated with offering your patients virtual physical therapy / telehealth services. The following outlines the main benefits:
- Insurance Coverage – In recent months, many insurance companies have started to recognize the fact that telehealth services are extremely important for patients that receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech-language pathology. This is especially true due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases within the United States. In fact, most insurance companies have stated that they will actually waive the fees that their members would typically pay for telehealth services.
- Enhanced Social Distancing – While it is true that your practice is likely taking the steps necessary to remain open and you are taking all of the precautions that are necessary to ensure the safety of your staff and your patients alike, by offering telehealth services, you are enhancing your social distancing measures. Now, you can offer personal, uninterrupted care without worrying about the potential risk of infection of the prevalent coronavirus. Telehealth offers your patients a completely safe and highly effective means of receiving the care that they need without experiencing the potential health risks that currently abound.
- One-on-One Care – One of the absolute best benefits associated with telehealth services for physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists is that you have the ability to create a personalized level of care to your patients with little to no distractions. Patients may also involve those that aid in their care – such as relatives, friends, neighbors, and caregivers – by bringing them in on the appointment. You can provide your individualized attention to your patient without the common distractions you may experience in your busy practice.
- Higher Levels of Convenience – According to those that utilize telehealth platforms and allow these types of services to their patients, these types of appointments are extremely convenient – not just for you as a practitioner but for your patients, too! Dedicated staff members can get everything ready ahead of time – such as running the patient’s insurance information to ensure that it is active, obtain their concerns, and scheduling the appointment. Then, they will contact you directly with the date and time of the appointment. You simply have to “show up” for the appointment and dedicate the amount of time that you desire to each patient.
- Relieves Patient Burden – Many patients experience quite a few burdens in order to get to their appointments. Many have to leave the comfort of their home while suffering from physical or mental distress, others must arrange transportation, and similar issues. By offering your patients telehealth services to attend their appointments, you are – potentially – relieving your patients of many burdens that they may otherwise have to face.
- Fewer Cancellations – If you have a practice, it is quite likely that you have experienced a cancellation. We all know just how challenging that is. A patient may become ill, may be unable to get transportation to their appointment, or may experience some other type of complication that results in their being unable to attend an appointment that they have previously set up with you. By integrating and utilizing telehealth services, you are sure to discover that you experience far fewer cancellations than ever before. Not only does this offer you a higher level of control over your time, it will also increase the monetary success of your practice – which is definitely a bonus!
- Better Outcomes – Being that patients are more comfortable in their home and they are more likely to attend a telehealth appointment, you will find that your patients experience better outcomes, physically. Those that are encouraged to work from the comfort of their home and are guided by a professional in the healthcare industry have been found more likely to stick to the regimen that they are provided with and to successfully finish that regimen. As a result, they feel better and experience a higher level of health, overall.
Efficient and Effective
Many studies have been conducting on telehealth services. Patients and providers alike have expressed the fact that they believe that telehealth is both efficient and effective – both in everyday situations and during a public health crisis. It is an innovative step in transforming the health of patients and transforming the practices of those that specialize in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology. Originally offered by primary care providers, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in its expansion to other types of therapists. Now, many insurance companies – after seeing the success of telehealth – have stated that they will continue to cover these types of services for their members, your patients.
Patients are the Priority
It does not matter if you are a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, or one that specializes in speech-language pathology, you are highly committed to ensuring your patients obtain the healthcare that they need to live the highest quality life possible. Telehealth allows you to be in multiple places – all within a short time. You are allowing your patients to have more options that allow them to customize their care to meet their everyday needs. Telehealth care help in preventative care, routine care, and even health maintenance measures.
At Colorado Physical Therapy Network, you have access to the tools, recourses, and other measures needed to provide the best telehealth care services to your patients as possible. To connect with a network that will allow your practice to offer efficient and effective care, simply visit us today at: https://coloradophysicaltherapynetwork.com/