In this day and age, the virtual world and online businesses are absolutely booming. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, if people have the option to stay home vs going out, many are choosing to stay home. For therapy practices, this has required a pivot in the way sessions are conducted and held. Telehealth is here to stay and this article will walk you through why you are missing out a huge opportunity within your practice if you have not yet pivoted to add a telehealth treatment service to your therapy business.

When patients started having increased fears of being in-person at clinics, due to increased risk of exposure to COVID and social distancing requirements, many practices saw a drop in their caseload. To combat this decline, several therapy clinics began heavily relying on telehealth for continued patient care and services. Since telehealth was not widely utilized prior to this, unless in very specific instances, many practices scrambled to find a way to provide these services while still abiding by HIPAA. While our country begins to adapt to its new normal, it appears telehealth is a treatment option which will be sticking around for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to physical therapy.

Several patients might not understand what telehealth therapy is or how it works so patient education will play a crucial role in portraying how effective telehealth therapy can be to ease any concerns the patient may have. Many patients will likely wonder how telehealth therapy appointments, through a computer, are going to help their condition improve, especially since physical therapy has been thought of as a very “hands-on” profession for several years.

One of the best ways to ease the patients’ concerns is to provide them with research as to the benefits of telehealth and how satisfied previous telehealth physical therapy patients have been. Based on a recent research article from The Musculoskeletal Journal of Hospital for Special Surgery, telehealth for outpatient physical therapy clinics has shown to be successful. After data was collected and analyzed, there did not appear to be a statistical difference between in-person and telehealth patient satisfaction, meaning patients have been just as satisfied with their results from telehealth physical therapy appointments, as they have been with in-person care. By providing thorough patient education, re-assurance, and research articles, patients are likely to have decreased apprehension or fears about the effectiveness of telehealth therapy.

Why patients choose tele physical therapy over in patient care:                                                                                                                               There are many reasons why patients may choose telehealth over in-patient care.

  1. One reason is less stress on the patient’s end, as the patient does not have to worry about leaving work at a set time or running late due to being stuck in traffic. 
  2. Another reason is increased flexibility of scheduling appointments as patients can attend their physical therapy session from wherever they are, even if they are just on their lunch break at work. 
  3. A third reason why telehealth is often favored over in-person appointments is the benefit of saving money on transportation costs as patients do not have to worry about paying for gas, parking, etc.
  4. Finally, telehealth appointments decrease the chance of contracting an illness as patients are no longer having to sit in a crowded waiting room for any period of time.

As the popularity of telehealth continues to increase and trend upwards, both at in-person clinics and online therapy businesses, it is important to have a PT EMR system which allows for increased ease and access to telehealth appointments.

Quick checklist of how to provide tele therapy services:

To successfully provide telehealth services to patients, you want to make sure your therapy note software has the capabilities and functionalities to host a telehealth appointment.

  1. HIPAA Compliance Software such as HelloNote: Apart from having telehealth capabilities already integrated into the software, the single most important feature is that telehealth appointments can be completed securely. If you are not hosting your telehealth sessions through a secure EMR system, then you are not in compliance with HIPAA which can result in several legal issues, especially if the patient’s information is leaked or the session is hacked. Before offering telehealth appointments to your patients, be sure you have the correct capabilities and access to host this treatment option within your EMR. One PT documentation software that has an integrated and secure telehealth feature built into its platform, to maintain HIPAA compliance and prevent any worries or concerns on your end, is HelloNote.
  2. You need to have professional lighting and video capture via a webcam.
  3. Make sure you can find a quiet and clean room to perform your tele-therapy session in.

And it’s really as easy as that!

Telehealth therapy appointments are likely to continue increasing in popularity, based off of trends in 2020. If you are just starting or have recently begun a private practice outpatient therapy clinic, then make sure you purchase a PT documentation software with telehealth capabilities built in, otherwise you will miss out on several potential patients.

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