Telehealth: Current and Future Benefits

Telehealth

TelehealthWhat is telehealth and why are we hearing so much about it now? Telehealth is the use of electronic communication to provide healthcare services from remote locations. This has been around for quite a while and some of you may even have utilized these services with your physician or other healthcare professional in the past. In light of the recommendations for Covid-19 encouraging people to maintain social distancing and only utilize essential healthcare services, some clinics have turned to only urgent or emergent cases in person and performing other services via telehealth. This differs state by state and between professions based on their federal laws and state practice acts, however many states have loosened the rules during this time to limit the number of people out and about. Telehealth allows those who are worried about transmission to get the healthcare services they need without leaving the safety/comfort of their own home.

So besides all that confusing stuff, could telehealth be beneficial for you now during the Covid-19 pandemic and could it be something you may actually continue with when things settle down? Synchronous telehealth visits allow you real-time visual/audio connection with a provider to discuss your specific needs and allow you to continue or even start addressing problems you may have lived with for a while now. More people are finding themselves working from home, sitting more, different types of exercises than normal, and doing all those chores around the house that you didn’t have time for before the pandemic. However, people are also finding themselves with more time as they take out long commutes, pick up/drop off kids, or reduced work hours. This could actually be a great time to do something for yourself and get that nagging pain taken care of!

Appointments from the comfort of your own home also allow the provider to make sure the exercises and stretches they are recommending will actually work in your environment. In the clinic, we are spoiled with many different pieces of equipment and can sometimes forget that when you leave our space you may not have access to items you need to complete the new exercises we showed you that day. Telehealth visits allow your provider to see the space you will be performing your exercises in, what equipment or items you already have so you don’t have to buy new things, and to allow them to keep making progressions for you even if you can’t get into the clinic because of covid-19, childcare, or other time constraints. It also allows us to see the set-up of those of you who are working from home to help see if that could be contributing to your issue or help prevent any future aches and pains.

Many patients think they are missing out on some hands on or in-person cues to help make sure you are moving your body correctly. And we get it, this is commonly the primary reason people get treatment. The truth is, the hands-on portion is only intended to act as a supplement to correctly prescribed exercises. Certain conditions make this hard to perform on your own, but there are certain self soft tissue or joint mobilization techniques to help replace the hands on portion we can teach you while doing a telehealth visit. Also, this also doesn’t need to be long-term if the hands-on seem to provide you with some relief. But some of you may find you like the convenience of these video assessments and exercise prescription long after the Covid-19 pandemic dust has settled.

We are likely going to see long-term changes in the healthcare system from Covid-19 which hopefully gives patients more access to services in the future. Telehealth is a great choice right now as we try to limit person to person contact to reduce exposure to Covid-19. Telehealth will also be a great choice moving forward for many patients who find they are limited by transportation, long work hours, childcare, travel often, live far away from the clinic, or live in a place with adverse weather conditions. So don’t be deterred from your goals. Continue to prioritize your health. There are many options available to you to support your health and wellbeing. Take advantage and be well.

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Alyssa Charbonneau, PT, DPT, ATC, Cert-DN
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