As we continue to live through the challenges of these ever changing times, we would like to share our personal experience navigating COVID-19 with all of you and what it has taught us about telehealth.
After closing our doors back in March, the staff at Evolve was eager to continue to provide services to our patients in any way possible. We made the quick transition to providing telehealth services and interacting with our patients via phone, email, social media and other varying modes of communication. Although it was not an easy transition from hands on in person treatment, to assessing and talking to patients through a camera, we were all willing and motivated to embrace the change and to our surprise… so were our patients!
As a Physical Therapist, you are taught to rely on your hands and your manual skills as a major portion of your treatment. Since this was no longer an option during the pandemic, we had to find other ways to achieve our patient’s goals. Whether it be figuring out how to do a self mobilization, having the patient’s partner or spouse help out, or simply finding household objects to use for patient’s exercises, there was a lot of improvising and getting creative.
So how did we do it?
It took a look of searching for information, seeking advice, and collaboration between our own staff, the staff of other clinics, doctors, insurers, and patients themselves to figure out the best way to provide the best care and create the best experience for everyone involved.
Upon searching for information and advice we came across an article from a few years ago that discussed how telehealth actually felt “more personal” between the patient and the clinician than an in person visit. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28217864/) Although I don’t think any of us at Evolve would have agreed with this statement at the beginning, I think we can all agree now that telehealth does in fact provide a sense of personal connection and closeness with patients that we didn’t know was possible!
Over the past year, we have reflected upon our own experiences and gathered some insight that we would like to share.
Below are some aspects of telehealth that our staff personally enjoy:
- It allows us to stay connected with our patients no matter where they are
- It keeps our patients motivated to stay on track and participating in their home exercises
- It provides a challenge for us PTs to think outside of the box and come up with new ways to look at movements, perform exercises, and do manual therapies
- It allows us and our patients to build a personal one-on-one connection within the comforts of our own homes
- It provides a supplement to our in person treatments for patients who may not require multiple days of manual therapy, but may need an extra session to review their home exercises and assess their progress
- It allows us to show our patients how to maintain their progress with the tools that they have at home in order to facilitate continued independence once they have been discharged — (one of the greatest challenges that we all face as PTs!!)
As we move forward into the new year and back towards some sense of normalcy, after opening our doors back up to our patients; we are continuing to use telehealth as an integral part of our company and patient experience. We will continue to utilize the benefits of both forms of treatment to ensure we are providing the best possible care to our patients!
We hope everyone continues to stay safe and healthy, and has a happy holiday and new year!
Sources:Hinman RS, Nelligan RK, Bennell KL, Delany C. “Sounds a Bit Crazy, But It Was Almost More Personal:” A Qualitative Study of Patient and Clinician Experiences of Physical Therapist-Prescribed Exercise For Knee Osteoarthritis Via Skype. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017;69(12):1834‐1844.