Barossa Physiotherapy launched online services as of Monday 30th March after spending much of the last few weeks in preparation (and thankfully we have progressed well beyond our first trial of this using an ironing board). During our time of suspended in-room consultations, this is the only option available for our clients, so here is everything you ever needed to know!
What is Telehealth?
“Telehealth is the ability to convey a Medical or Health Consultation at a distance”.
(Karen Finnin, online.physio/video/what-is-telehealth)
…or as we would say:
“Physio from the comfort and safety
of your own home!!”
This is not a new concept.
Telehealth – and for us this means Digital Physiotherapy – has been a growing area of physiotherapy, as well as many areas of health (like psychology, medicine, emergency etc). There are already some practices and health services that have transitioned either in part or completely to this type of format. Rural NSW has utilized it for some years, particularly in following up their post-surgical orthopaedic patients, diabetes management and even cardiac rehab. This has saved them travelling back from their farms, stations and small towns to bigger regional centres – saving both time and money but also getting great outcomes that are as good (if not better) than having in-clinic appointments. (If you don’t believe us, we have all the evidence here).
The Australian Physiotherapy Association has been lobbying for some years now to have better rebates for Telehealth (link here). The NDIS already pays for Telehealth appointments, and some injured workers and overseas travelers have also negotiated for online physio consults to be paid for by their insurer. Many rural emergency departments have a direct video link to metro hospitals so that specialists can assist local GP’s assess and manage patients. So it’s not new at all. The reality of COVID-19 has had the unexpected benefit of fast-tracking the payment processes, which is a win for you… and a win for us, too! (and boy, do we all need a little win at the moment).
So how does it work?
Some of you already live and work in the digital world, or if you’re young enough, you’ve grown up with an iphone in your hand!! For those less-tech-savvy, you might have had a meeting or family chat over Zoom or Skype. Some may have done some online study that involved watching webinars or maybe you have Facetimed family or friends (particularly now as we can’t meet them in person). Digital Physiotherapy is a bit like this – it is a face-to-face consultation using a phone, a tablet/ipad or a computer with a camera (found on most laptops).
So, if you can open an email or download an App, you can access our services. Then we do all the hard work – we know what questions to ask, how to get you to show us movements or point to the bits that hurt. We will producing a bit of an infographic/newsletter that shows you what this might look like.
But most importantly, it is easier than you think, and we can talk you through it, every step of the way.
But how would I pay?
NO, not with toilet paper!!
Just like coming to the clinic, how you pay depends on what category of client you are.
Medicare, Workcover, DVA and many of the Private Health Funds are covering telehealth (and in some cases also telephone consults). If you’re not sure, you can just pay upfront yourself (via an email we send you, using ‘Stripe’ which is a bit like PayPal) and then you can claim that back.
A full list of options is available here, as well as how you might be able to qualify for some services and how we will bill you or a third party. And if it turns out that you’re not a candidate for Digital Physiotherapy, then you get a full refund of any payments you have made.
And how will I get treatment?
Physio has traditionally been very a “hands-on” profession. But those of you who have been to physio would know that in a consult we initially spend a lot of time listening to you describe your problem, asking LOTS of questions, watching you move and asking even more questions. At this point we already have a few ideas on what might be going on. (By the way, if you needed a scan, or a doctor, we would generally already know this and we would be sending you off for these).
There are so many things we can teach and show you that help you recover that DON’T require hands-on. And we can also show you self-release techniques, or how to teach a family member how to help you. For many, the most appropriate thing has always been great advice, education on what to do and what not to do, and exercise prescription for you to go home and treat the problem. And all of this can be done via our video consult!
We know that for some of you, nothing will replace a good-old pummeling, and when in-room consults are safe for both you and us, we hope to see you in the clinic soon.
Until then, (and while our clinic consults are temporarily suspended) Telehealth via Digital Physiotherapy can do just as good a job (if only just a little bit differently).