Many Physical Therapists are now integrating Virtual Physical Therapy into their practices. They’re finding that telehealth services are well received.
On January 16th 2020, news emerged on EurekAlert.org that virtual physical therapy – which costs significantly less than traditional physical therapy – was found to bring about similar outcomes in patients that had recently undergone knee replacement.
This stemmed from a study released in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.
Since this positive telehealth finding, many physical therapists are now scrambling to integrate virtual-based services into their practices.
What is Virtual Physical Therapy?
Often referred to as “Telehealth Physical Therapy”, virtual physical therapy is a type of service offered by physical therapists that is offered through a technological platform rather than in the office, or in-person.
Telehealth gained steam in 2014 when it was relatively new.
To date, there are at least four different strategies in which this type of physical therapy is offered to patients. They are as follows:
- Mobile Health – Often referred to as “mHealth”, this type of virtual physical therapy delivers services through tablets, cell phones, and similar types of electronic devices.
- Live Video – This is often called “Real-Time”. The patient and PT interact live over video.
- Remote Patient Monitoring – Often referred to as “RPM”, this involves monitoring a patient and their related medical information over a secured connection through an electronic means.
- Store-and-Forward – This is simply the process of transferring health-based history information and/or medical-based records over a secured electronic method.
In August of 2018, an insurance firm in McKinney, Texas, BevCap Management, started offering the Virtual Exercise Rehabilitation Assistant (VERA) by Reflexion Health to patients.
This platform integrated virtual physical therapy and a special capture 3-D technology to assist patients recovering from joint replacement. A total of 36 patients participated in the virtual physical therapy sessions and the following observations were noted:
- Up to 75% of all patients elected to participate in the virtual physical therapy because it made them feel as if they were more in control of their treatment post-surgery.
- Not all patients are ready for this type of virtual care. By integrating a specially-designed screening process, PTs were able to quickly identify who would benefit from this type of therapy and those that preferred traditional post-op physical therapy sessions.
- A study was conducted and the results were made available at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons annual meeting in the year of 2019. It was here that it was established that tele physical therapy results in high levels of patient satisfaction. In addition to over 91% of patients being happy with their results, it was discovered that virtual physical therapy for rehabilitation purposes saved patients at least $1,000 in recovery costs.
Greatest Potential for Growth
Musculoskeletal care is a huge market. There are many virtual-based physical therapy platforms, apps, and other types of software quickly emerging on the market today.
In a survey that was conducted by the National Business Group on Health, it was determined that – among all current virtual-based health care services offered to patients across the country – that virtual physical therapy options for those suffering from musculoskeletal issues has the absolutely highest level of potential for massive growth.
In fact, many employers across the nation will start offering these virtual services to their employees. By the year of 2022, it is expected that nearly 40% of all employers will have this in place.
Physical therapists that are seeking to advance their practice stand to experience many benefits by integrating virtual physical therapy into their practice.
Appealing to Insurers and Those That Manage Benefits
One of the main benefits associated with virtual physical therapy is that it costs less.
While many PTs may be nervous about the effect that it will have on their bottom line, it is likely that the service will take off.
Patients are likely to prefer this type of therapy over traditional physical therapy.
This means it is likely to increase the profits of a practice. Due to the low costs of virtual physical therapy, it will be more appealing to insurance companies and those that manage patient benefits.
In addition to straight physical therapy services offered virtually, physical therapists may use it to follow up with the patients that receive their therapy in person.
While it is true that most physical therapists perform manual therapy and that this still holds a high level of importance, movement therapy is also important.
In short, all PTs are movement experts.
Virtual telehealth options will allow us to engage in this role more actively. Educating patients, walking patients through movements, and engaging – those are all areas that may be successfully performed in telehealth or virtual environment.
A PT in Richmond, Virginia, Damien Howell, utilizes virtual therapy through a unique partnership with American Well. This company specializes in products for telehealth.
Damien says that telehealth in Physical Therapy is “ the way of the future.”
Always Connected, Always In-Demand
We live in a world that is always connected in a virtual fashion and our society is considered to be “on-demand”. We are quickly growing accustomed to “instant gratification”.
If a patient is prescribed general education, general guidance, or exercise, they do not want to wait an extended amount of time to get it.
Many will quickly jump on board virtual services offered by healthcare providers. By integrating virtual physical therapy into your practice, you will be offering a service that is likely to quickly catch on and increase your profits and reputation.
In addition to standard care, it can also be used to engage in the following:
- Consultations with practitioners that are part of a care team for your patient
- The advanced intake of information pertaining to a patient’s health history
- Quick screenings and follow-ups
- To answer questions and/or to address concerns
- Conducting checkups that are post-discharge
- The monitoring and rehabilitation of patients that are in post-surgical status
Virtual physical therapy offers many advantages to those that elect to use it in their practice. In addition to the benefits listed throughout this guide, it will also aid in the networking of practitioners.
For more information on how to expand your services through networking, visit us today at: https://coloradophysicaltherapynetwork.com/