Is TeleHealth the Future of Healthcare?

By Dr. Josh Elam, Physical Therapist

As our present day normal has been dictated by social distancing patterns, we have had to adapt in ways we never thought possible. From shopping to engaging in our own health upkeep, we have had to become flexible in how to achieve our goals. For our health, participating in TeleHealth has been a way for people to receive the care they need, straight from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Is TeleHealth the future of healthcare?

What is TeleHealth?

TeleHealth is the use of telecommunications technology to provide real-time healthcare remotely to patients. It can be delivered simply by using mobile phones, tablets or desktop computers, and all you need as the patient is Internet access to be able to connect remotely on a device to your healthcare provider. Often TeleHealth is provided through a video platform online, so there is face-to-face interaction and discussion between the provider and patient. TeleHealth was initially used primarily by primary care physicians to evaluate patients with illness so that they could provide prescriptive care without having to see the patient in the clinic. With the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and state level changes have helped to increase patient access to a myriad of healthcare providers from the comfort and safety of their own home.

In addition to seeing your primary care physician via TeleHealth access, you can also continue to see your specialty doctors as well. Physical Therapists (PT’s) have access to secure and private HIPAA-compliant TeleHealth platforms to evaluate new patients and continue treatment for established patients. Through the virtual platforms, PT’s can provide most of their usual services, such as exercise instruction for proper form, exercise progression to continue with strength gains, and postural modification to maintain improvements. Many people who have transitioned to working at home might have found it difficult to set up a workstation that encourages good posture. Sitting with poor posture can lead to aches, pains and regressions from previous improvements. TeleHealth appointments can be especially helpful in evaluating your workstation at home and making ergonomic adjustments to set you up for success while working from home.

telehealthPhysical therapists are experts on knowing what muscles to target for increasing flexibility, strength and stability. After assessing your individual needs, a custom exercise program is created and shared virtually to address areas that could use some TLC. Whether it is lower back pain that keeps you from walking, shoulder pain while reaching overhead, or knee pain that prevents you from doing activities you used to do, PT’s can address your situation and get you back to what you want to be doing!

More so than ever, it is important to stay strong and active. TeleHealth makes it easier and more convenient for people to stay healthy and engaged in their health. People love the convenience, flexibility and real-time care with their physical therapist. As physical therapy is considered an essential healthcare service, PT clinics can continue to serve the community using both TeleHealth and one-on- one appointments in the clinic. The goal of physical therapy is to keep everyone safe, healthy and pain-free!

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