The word telehealth has been bandied around a lot lately and the federal government has in response to COVID-19 expanded the Medicare items relating to telehealth.
So what exactly is Telehealth?
Telehealth is a form of consultation with a health professional via video link up or over the phone. It is a way of having an appointment with a health professional without meeting them in person and can be conducted from your own home or any place where you can use a phone, a computer or an ipad/tablet.
A Health professional – who can conduct a consultation via telehealth – can be your doctor, psychologist or in our case either your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.
Telehealth can be an appointment over the phone, or via video on facetime, Skype or Zoom. Skype and Zoom are video business and conferencing platforms that specialize in connecting people via video. It works across all devices from computers, to smart phones and tablets. You don’t need to be technically minded, just to have a device with a camera on it and an internet connection
How it works
Telehealth can be as simple as your health consultant (in this case your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist), calling you on the phone. At Move Better for Life we call this a phone consultation – usually lasting about 10 mins. It is best used as a short consultation to check on your progress or a longer consultation if you cannot access video facilities.
Ideally as physios and exercise physiologists, we would prefer to see you using video software. We call them Econsults and typically use Zoom as the video platform to connect with you. – it is easy to use and has good quality video screening allows us to see and assess your movements if needed. We send you an email to connect to the Zoom link – it is easy to use and we can step you through the process.
Does it work?
Telehealth does work and is valuable in situations where you cannot get to the physio or exercise physiologist. Most musculoskeletal Injuries treated by physiotherapists, and strengthening programs and treatment with exercise physiologists are suitable for telehealth and online consultations.
One of the most import parts of a consultation is to correctly diagnose, then educate you on your problem, giving you much more control of your own recovery. Your physio or exercise physiologist can talk to you about what is bothering you, what are your main problems, your pain, stiff or weakness. They will be able to see where the problem is, and what movements make it worse or help it. This is the same information they would ask you in a face to face consultation.
They can also see how you move and start to diagnose what the problem may be. We can show you on screen pictures, videos and explanations of your diagnosis during the call.
Educating you about your condition, identifying contributing factors from your lifestyle, and identifying self-management strategies including developing a structured and tailored exercise program, are some of the most important things Physiotherapists do. Exercise physiologist complement that treatment with following up on the exercise programs and integrating it into your lifestyle. All this can all be done via telehealth.
Hope this helps clear up a few things about Telehealth and how it can help.