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Sheltering Arms Blog

Telehealth: 6 Things You Should Know


Posted on: June 11, 2020 by Jenny Lankford

By: Cristin Beazley, PT, DPT, CBIS, manager of clinical sciences

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services have been rolled out at a rapid pace. This virtual care has allowed healthcare providers to continue working with patients during a time when in-person care was not advisable. Telehealth has become necessary for many to access services that may otherwise be unavailable.

A brief history of telehealth

Telehealth was initially created for those living in remote areas who were unable to easily access in-person care at both adult and pediatric practices. In the past, insurance coverage was a major barrier to telehealth utilization. Virtual services were typically not covered by most insurance companies or coverage varied greatly depending upon insurance type and state of residence.

However, that has drastically changed as a result of the pandemic. During this health crisis, most insurance companies and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will now cover services delivered via telehealth, including physical, occupational and speech therapy.

So, what is telehealth exactly?

If you’ve searched for telehealth on the web, you’ve probably come across several different names for the service such as e-visit or remote patient monitoring. In its most basic form, telehealth is defined as a method of electronic communication to deliver remote healthcare services.

For the purposes of this article and the services offered by Sheltering Arms, we will refer to telehealth as a live video connection that allows you to be ‘face-to-face’ with your clinician.

How can you complete therapy via video chat when it’s so hands-on?

Telehealth for physical, occupational and speech therapy has been proven by each discipline as an effective method of treatment for many years. Studies have shown that 80 percent therapist’s diagnostic ability comes from the patient’s subjective reporting and history. Often that means the patient tells the therapist what is wrong prior to any examination.

Several areas can be evaluated through video including range of motion, functional movement patterns, transfers, gait patterns and deviations. Assessments can also be given verbally and performed at home. Therapists can also provide instructions on how to self-examine an area and provide feedback on feeling to give the therapist more information.

Of course, there are some limitations of virtual care such as diagnosis and treatment, which is why it’s important to have ongoing patient-therapist collaboration to determine the best platform or combination of platforms to manage individual needs.

Will you get the same results with telehealth as in-person therapy?

Even though telehealth seems like a relatively new method of delivery for therapy services, it has existed for several years. Research studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of telehealth and the evidence is encouraging. When compared to in-person care, researchers found similar outcomes for patients with a variety of both neurologic and orthopedic diagnoses.

Benefits of telehealth services for physical rehab

You do not have to worry about transportation or missing time from work! You can schedule your appointments at times that work for you with minimal disruption to your day.

Telehealth increases access to specialists in a variety of areas. You no longer have to depend on the location a particular service is offered. Sheltering Arms has a wide variety of specialty programs led by trained therapists. Some examples include:

These are just some of our specialty services that are offered through telehealth. You and your therapist will work together to determine the most appropriate platform to meet your needs. Telehealth services often work well in a hybrid model by combining telehealth and in-person visits for the most effective results.

Scheduling a telehealth appointment & what you need

Telehealth appointments are made the same way an in-person appointment is made and still requires a physician referral. Your appointment will take place on the Microsoft Teams app and you will be directed to our telehealth webpage after making your appointment for information on preparing for your visit.

You must have an email address and access to a computer, tablet or smart phone with a camera to participate in a telehealth appointment. You do not have to be at home, but you do need to be somewhere that is quiet, relatively private and has room for you to move around.

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding telehealth or feedback from a previous telehealth appointment, please contact Cristin Beazley, PT, DPT, CBIS, manager of clinical science, at cbeazley@shelteringarms.com.

You may also enjoy: Helpful Telehealth Tips