Have you had a telehealth appointment yet? Telehealth has become widespread in Australia as part of the social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus. It’s easy, convenient and safe.
Do you wonder how telehealth and physiotherapy go together though? It’s actually not very different from a face-to-face appointment in many ways. We listen to you, watch you move, ask where it hurts, and show you exercises and other techniques to help you strengthen your body and recover.
Read on to learn more about physiotherapy through telehealth.
Telehealth: Your Questions Answered
We shop online, navigate using an app, do our banking on our phones, call the family on Facetime and spend far too long on social media than we probably should.
In short, we’re digital creatures. Yet, we’re new to digital healthcare.
Healthcare is so high-tech in some ways and yet so slow to change in others. The COVID-19 pandemic has been the catalyst for telehealth in Australia. We’ve been using telehealth technology in our business meetings and social lives for a long time so it’s not a big leap to deliver and receive healthcare in this way.
We’ve been providing telehealth at The Brisbane Spine Clinic for a little while now. Here are our answers to the questions patients most frequently ask us about telehealth and physiotherapy.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth is virtual healthcare. Instead of a face-to-face appointment, you and your healthcare provider connect using video conferencing software on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Telehealth can also be done over the phone.
What Are The Benefits of Telehealth?
Telehealth’s many benefits include:
- Enabling you to stay at home if you’re sick
- Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission because you and your healthcare provider don’t need to meet in person
- Overcoming the barrier of distance
- Convenience since you don’t have to factor in travel time, parking and waiting around.
You can get a rebate for many telehealth services through Medicare or your private health fund.
How New Is Telehealth?
It’s much older than you’d think. In fact, the first case of telemedicine in Australia dates back to 1874. Using the newly constructed telegraph, a doctor in Adelaide treated an injured man in the Northern Territory.
Australia is a huge country and most of our services are based in cities. That’s why telehealth has been used to deliver healthcare to people living in regional and remote Australia since at least 2011.
Why Am I Seeing Telehealth Everywhere Now?
Because of COVID-19.
Telehealth is not new but the government made it more widely available through Medicare as part of Australia’s response to COVID-19.
It meant that Australians could still receive the care they needed while remaining at home.
Will Telehealth Disappear When the Pandemic Ends?
Probably not. Of course, many patients and healthcare providers prefer a face-to-face appointment for some aspects of care. But there are many other cases where the same outcome could be achieved more easily over telehealth.
People living with chronic conditions that require a number of medical appointments may well prefer telehealth because it doesn’t interrupt their day as much. Other patients will want to keep using telehealth because it means they can choose the healthcare professional who suits them best even if that person isn’t within easy travelling distance.
How Do You Do Physiotherapy Through Telehealth?
We’re often asked that. When people think of physiotherapy, they tend to imagine hands-on techniques like manipulation and mobilisation.
That’s certainly part of physiotherapy but a great deal of our work actually involves listening to you, watching your movements and teaching you certain exercises to build your strength and flexibility. We can do all that online.
Does Telehealth Work for Physiotherapy?
Yes. There’s growing evidence that telehealth is just as effective as a face-to-face appointment in many cases.
What Do I Need for a Telehealth Physiotherapy Appointment
- A fully charged or plugged in computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone with a video camera and microphone
- Somewhere to rest your device so that you don’t have to hold it while we talk
- Space to move so we can examine your range of movement and get you to try some exercises
- Privacy, if that’s important to you (we will be in a closed, private room but you don’t have to be
- A notebook and pen if you want to write anything down (though we’ll email you our recommendations afterwards anyway).
What Can’t You Do Through Telehealth?
We can’t do hands-on treatment through telehealth. If it becomes clear that you need hands-on therapy we can arrange a home visit or an in-clinic appointment.
How Do I Book a Telehealth Appointment?
If you’d like to try a telehealth appointment, then please book here.
Once you’ve booked, we’ll send you an email explaining how to access your telehealth appointment. Give it a go – we bet you won’t look back.