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  • Writer's pictureEmma Green, PT

5 benefits of Virtual Physical Therapy

Lockdown forced us all onto zoom, but as we slowly get back to normal is online physical therapy a better option for you? This is a GREAT question!

What are the benefits of virtual physical therapy?

1 - Dedicated one-to-one care from the licensed physical therapist.

This is something that I noticed myself when my kids were having telehealth appointments with their pediatrician. We didn't see the physician's assistant, just the doctor. It was fantastic! This is also a benefit for physical therapy clients. When you go to the in-person clinic, you likely get a few minutes with the therapist and then get handed over to the assistant or aide. With virtual treatment, you ONLY see the licensed therapist.

2 - No time away from work or family.

No travel time, no parking time, no sitting in the waiting area time, no "Fluff" time.

I used to have to block off half a day for doctor's appointments, by the time I factored in the travel and WAIT times. Urgh! That was all eliminated with virtual visits! Imagine having to spend 30 minutes for an appointment, rather than HOURS! How much is that going to save you in time off work?

Time is perhaps our most precious resource. As such, commutes can be frustrating and stressful for clients. Unexpected traffic closures often lead clients to race in, anxious about being late or missing any part of their therapy time. In one scenario I had a patient get into a car accident on the way over to see me. Needless to say, that session wound up focusing on something entirely different than what we had intended. With enough on their brimming plates, the last thing clients need to worry about is one more place to be. And for that matter, one extra cost if parking tickets or accidents are involved.

3 - No gap in treatment even if you have to (or want to) travel.

This is a HUGE factor for many of my clients - they can travel for work or pleasure and still attend treatment sessions, eliminating gaps in treatment and ensuring optimum recovery.

Previously, people would have to stop their treatment if they wanted to take a vacation or had a work trip. Often finding their symptoms would return with the gap in treatment. This doesn't have to happen - you can do online therapy on your own terms.

4 - Treatment in the comfort of your own home...

This is fabulous for both the client AND the therapist! The client can be comofrtable in their own environment and doesn't have to travel, as mentioned above, and can show their therapist exactly how they are doing their exercises at home, in their own environment. This is great insight for the therapist as they can see the patient's specific desk setup or how they perform a particular activity in real time.

5 - ...Or even at work

Many clients are able to attend their therapy sessions during their lunch break while they are at work. Not having to leave the office, battling traffic, requesting time off from their supervisor, struggling to find and pay for parking, only to have to sit in the waiting area and keep checking their watch during their session as they have to race back for an important meeting. Imagine just clicking a link in an email and coming face-to-face with your therapist. Getting the targeted, personalized care you specifically need. Then clicking off the call and continuing with your day. I know which scenario I choose.

6 - Access to specialists that you wouldn't normally be able to see due to location.

This is truly transformational. Imagine being able to have a consultation with the specialist in your problem, but who is hundreds of miles away from where you live...without having to travel to see them. This has made huge differences in many patients lives - they can now access the specific care they need, even if it doesn't exist in their local area.

7 - Online Therapy is more affordable

There are less overheads or costs of running a big in-person office. These cost savings can be passed onto the patient. As health insurance premiums rise at an alarming rate and insurance companies pass the cost of care over to patients, this can be a welcome option for patients to choose. Add into that the dedicated, targeted, customized care that virtual therapy affords and many patients find they actually need fewer sessions than the doctor prescribed for them - saving them additional time and money compared to traditional clinics.

8 - There is a low barrier to entry

One of the biggest challenges facing prospective therapy clients is the initial appointment. How does telehealth fit in? An easy way to describe it is this—all those things you hate about your dentist waiting room? They apply in therapy as well. Finding the office, sitting, anxiously counting down the time, waiting for your name to be called. With teletherapy, it’s almost always in the comfort of your own home.

9 - Privacy

Teletherapy ensures maximal privacy every time. There's no danger of bumping into someone you know and being placed on the next bed to them as you discuss your medical history. With social media, everyone is connected, teletherapy removes this concern altogether.

10 - Flexibility

Teletherapy allows for maximal flexibility for overworked and overcommitted clients. Having worked with many high-achieving patients, those who need services the most often have the least time. Being able to reschedule and integrate sessions impacts the therapist and caseload at large minimally. For some clients, the ability to schedule a last minute check-in can be invaluable.

11 - Safety

Across much of the nation, severe winter weather can put a kink in plans. In some regions, where an inch of snow shuts down the city, snow days can wreak havoc on scheduling. Some clients are stranded on mountain tops, others have four-wheel drive and trek their way to an office that closed down hours ago. Such concerns are eliminated in teletherapy. Further, there is no expectation that clients leave their homes in dangerous weather, there are no late cancellation fees, or consideration of what school districts are opened or closed. With teletherapy, the show can go on, each time.

12 - Illness

It is not uncommon for clients with heavy workloads and many pressures to repeatedly succumb to illnesses. When clients with severe flus and viruses (often actively contagious) attend in person sessions, this puts the therapist and by extension their other patients at risk. Further, illness often can cause additional last-minute cancellations. The ability for clients to continue working with their therapist, especially when ill, can be highly impactful. Teletherapy makes it safe for both clients and therapists.

13 - Patient and therapist timeliness is improved

When sessions begin at the click of a button, timeliness is certainly improved. Without the concern of a traffic jam, getting lost on their way to the office, or running low on gas, it is a no-brainer that timeliness is significantly improved when clients and therapists are always in reach of their devices.

14 - Streamlined communication

One of the most integral components of my practice is my online billing, scheduling and charting program which also offers teletherapy directly via secure link. Clients can opt for a reminder text, email, or both and all the information regarding their appointment is at their fingertips. Having everything in one place is beautifully simple and fits in with the general ethos of teletherapy. In rare times when two patients have shown up for the same session, I have always felt terrible sending them home again when I know they rushed to get there. With teletherapy, when these rare errors occur, there is no minimal inconvenience to anyone.

15 - Access for remote patients or those who don't have transport

Telehealth allows for equality of access to timely quality care for all patients. More times than I can count, I have done a double-take when I have reviewed a new client’s details and seen their home address listed in a city over an hour away. When we switched to teletherapy, this was no longer a hardship for those clients located a distance way.

16 - Access for disabled populations

Those who are bedridden, have chronic illness or severe injuries can be major beneficiaries of online treatment options.

17 - Waiting times are reduced

This is the benefit of near-immediate access. Clients can call large organizations and wait for days for a return phone call, only to be offered an appointment in 2 months time. Having worked in large clinics, I have observed insurance teams taking weeks to confirm benefits, process paperwork, and other bureaucratic hassles. For clients able to see private practitioners, access can be near immediate. To be frank, that is one of my favorite parts of solo practice—for too many years I witnessed those in severe need go weeks until they could get an appointment. With virtually all aspects of my practice being paperless and electronic, I can send paperwork to the patient via secure connection, have it filled out, and sent back to me within the day. Most often I can accommodate patients within a week, if not within 24 hours depending on how quickly we can get things going. For clients who are in need urgently, or perhaps finally mustered up the courage to see someone, often waiting weeks can lead to appointment cancellations or clients situations deteriorating

So there you have it - 17 benefits of virtual physical therapy!

Request a free consultation with us today to see if virtual therapy would be the best option for your problem.

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