Physical Therapy in the Time of Coronavirus: The Many Benefits of Telehealth
COVID-19 has upended daily routines and forced many Americans to stay at home whenever possible. Since many of us are practicing some form of “social distancing,” we’ve turned to the internet more than ever before for entertainment (and that’s really saying something!). The good news is, the internet can be used for much more than binge watching Tiger King and Zoom happy hours with colleagues. Thanks to modern technology and some quick changes to health insurance policies, you can now attend a physical therapy session with a licensed physical therapist, covered by your insurance plan, from the comfort of your own home through telehealth.
Telehealth has many benefits, including:
1. It Works
Listen, we were skeptical too. How do you translate a “hands-on” approach to care into virtual, audio and visual-only sessions? Unfortunately, we know that pain doesn’t quit during a pandemic, and so neither do our physical therapists. PTs are adapting to this new online model and have discovered that open discussion, asking the right questions, functional movement tests and guided, targeted stretches and exercises can yield excellent, almost comparable results to traditional care.
In many cases, working from home in a new environment, trying new at-home fitness routines, or simply living a more sedentary life can create pain and even injury. Through telehealth, physical therapists can pinpoint the cause of your pain and guide you back to health. Examples can include ergonomic assessment of your workspace to better fit your body, home stretching and fitness routines to target specific areas of your body, guided myofascial release, corrective exercises and guidance for better form and posture. By taking steps early to address pain, you can avoid bigger problems, and potentially even surgery, down the line.
2. It Promotes Social Distancing
While most PTSMC clinics remain open and are taking all necessary precautions to provide a safe, clean clinical environment, we know that many individuals are advised against, or simply prefer not to, visit a healthcare clinic right now. With telehealth, you get uninterrupted, personal attention from an expert physical therapist without leaving your home, meaning there’s no risk of infection. Better yet, it’s HIPAA-compliant, meaning your personal health information is protected, in addition to being a comfortable, safe and effective alternative to a typical clinical visit.
3. It’s Covered
Most insurance companies have recognized the importance of physical therapy telehealth and added it to their coverage! This is great news for members who need physical therapy in order to stay healthy at home. Updates in coverage include Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, ConnectiCare and United Healthcare, all of which have announced that they’ll be waiving all costs associated with telehealth for most members. Cigna and Oxford are also providing coverage for telehealth physical therapy, as are other insurance providers across the state. You can reach out to your local clinic directly with any questions about your insurance plan.
4. It’s Accessible
You may be worried that you don’t have the right device to participate in a telehealth session, but fear not! Most people likely already have everything they need. Do you have a smart phone? A laptop? A tablet? Then you’re ready to go! The only thing you need is a device that has a working microphone and camera, and internet or network access. PTSMC uses Doxy.me, a safe, easy-to-use, HIPPA-compliant platform trusted by healthcare providers worldwide, meaning it’s been tested and used by companies both large and small. There’s no download or login requirement, so it only takes a few clicks before you can start speaking one-on-one with a physical therapist.
5. It’s Convenient
With telehealth physical therapy, getting assessed and treated by a licensed PT is more convenient than ever! All you have to do is call your local PTSMC clinic or submit your information on our website, let one of our patient service coordinators figure out your insurance benefits, schedule an appointment, and then your therapist will email you a link to the meeting at your requested day and time. No time off from work, no drive to your appointment, no wait to see a physical therapist, and no risk of infection from Coronavirus. Be seen today and start feeling better faster!
PTSMC is proud to be using telehealth appointments to treat new and current patients. If you’re feeling any pain or discomfort, don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Submit your information online or give one of our offices a call to see if telehealth is a good fit for you.