May 15, 2020

Online Physical Therapy 101

by Kenneth Timper

COVID-19 rocked our world. With health and social responsibility as the priority, physical therapy practices rely on telehealth or telemedicine now more than ever.

PTs (physical therapists) and Pts (patients) are utilizing modern technology to communicate with one another from the comfort and safety of their homes. Business owners everywhere are adapting to survive.

If you are thinking about taking your practice online, here are some basic tips that will aid you in implementing telehealth.

1. Find a quiet space

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but whether you are in your office or living room make sure you are free from any background noise or distractions. This can include any distracting clutter that could potentially take away from the visit.

2. Optimize your camera and lighting

Before you begin taking patients online, make sure your video quality and lighting are optimal.

If you are simply talking to patients one on one, make sure your camera is at eyelevel. Having your camera set to eyelevel makes it easier to make eye-contact and ensures that both you and your patient are staying engaged.

If you are doing more complex activities like demonstrating exercises on camera, then you may want to consider some additional background lighting.

Tablets, iPhones, and other smartphones are also viable platforms to conduct telehealth visits. Many of them have built-in cameras with excellent video and sound quality alongside the added mobility and flexibility of a mobile device.

Should you decide to broadcast from your very capable smartphone, there are many gadgets available that can turn your mobile device into a fully equipped studio.

3. Choose the appropriate software for your practice

Examine and evaluate your physical therapy practice’s needs and determine what software is the perfect fit for you (wink, wink).

It is important to analyze your set-up and goals. Then, determine your practice’s needs from there. Consider asking some of the following questions:

• Do you need a practice management solution that includes telehealth on both a web browser and a mobile app?
• What level of experience do you want to deliver to your patients?
• How important is to you to save time by combining your schedule, forms, notes, billing, and HEP to work in unison with your telehealth platform?

Many new “telehealth” platforms are now flooding the market, but it is important to look at all of your needs as a physical therapist and choose a trusted and proven software provider.

PtEverywhere.com provides a cross-platform application that is compatible on desktops, laptops, Androids, and Apple devices and includes HIPAA-compliant telehealth features.

It is also available to use on all internet browsers, although PtEverywhere recommends using Google Chrome for an optimal experience.

4. Have “Built-in” Troubleshooting and Tech Support

If your clinic has more than a couple practicing physical therapists, it might be a good idea identify an “in-house” tech specialist among the group.

This means appointing one person to become an expert on the appropriate applications and technology and ensuring that important information and education are relayed to all other personnel involved.

For those of you who are flying solo in this climate, the same message still applies. It is imperative to acquaint yourself with any new applications and technology; expect the unexpected. If you fail to prepare, you may have to prepare to fail. Anticipate hiccups and remedy them before they happen.

5. Smile!

Telerehabilitation might not be the first choice for some patients, but there are many benefits when you embrace this technology. It is up to you to remain optimistic and continue to engage the patient with effective and impactful treatment.

In addition to changing individual lives through physical therapy, remote care can save your practice today and grow your practice tomorrow. And that’s something to smile about on the big screen.