Telehealth involves the use of a digital device (computer, tablet) or phone (mobile or landline) to provide healthcare services to you, from the comfort of your own home and without the need to travel. It is particularly useful for people living in rural and remote locations where specialist health services are not readily accessible, and those living with disability or mobility issues.
This page provides a general overview of how physiotherapy telehealth works. Each clinic will have its own preferred mode of delivery. Please check with your physiotherapist if you would like further information on how they manage their telehealth appointments.
What are the benefits of telehealth?
- it is safe, effective and easy to use
- it is convenient and can be done in the comfort and privacy of your home
- it is currently funded by Medicare and many private health funds
- you can access telehealth on most devices such as smartphones and tablets
- you don’t need to be technically savvy to be able to use it
- convenient for patients, families, carers
- it can help to assess new conditions or to maintain your treatment program while still following social distancing guidelines.
What to expect from your consultation?
- you will be asked to outline your concerns to your physio, and asked questions to determine what the issue is
- you may be asked what you want to achieve from the consultation
- you should be given a clear explanation of your condition
- you will receive a clear and personalised plan for how to treat/manage it
- your care will be in line with the latest physiotherapy knowledge and evidence, the same as you would receive in a clinic appointment.
How does telehealth work?
Your telehealth appointment will be fairly similar to a face-to-face appointment and may include:
- an in-depth discussion with your physiotherapist about your condition
- demonstrating or having you perform certain movements or other tests while they monitor on the screen
- a discussion of the findings of the assessment in detail
- advice and education about your condition
- videos or an app of prescribed exercises may be shared with you
- you may do the exercises together with the physiotherapist
- a treatment plan that you and the physiotherapist develop together
- a summary of your appointment, exercise or treatment plan and examples of exercises
- complete your exercises and to log them via exercise prescription software
- ensuring you are followed-up adequately to track progress of your treatment plan.
How do I organise telehealth at home?
Call or email your physiotherapist to see if they can support a telehealth appointment for your condition. They will advise if telehealth is a good option for you.
Most physiotherapists have a simple and easy to use method for you to connect with them. They may send you an email link for you to click on when it is time for your appointment.
Although each provider will have their own software and systems, it is unlikely that you will need to do anything technical such as installing programs.
Generally, the important things that you will need at home for a telehealth appointment are easily accessible and include:
- a laptop, tablet or mobile device, or a computer with a microphone and camera
- strong reliable internet connection
- quiet setting
- a suitable space - you may need to be able to move around if the physiotherapist has to assess you.
Do you have to use telehealth if you don't want to?
The short answer is no. Most physiotherapy practices are still open and allow patients to come in for face-to-face consultations if they believe it is safe and in your best interests to do so.
Is it as effective as face-to-face consultations?
There is lots of evidence that shows that physiotherapy via telehealth is just as effective as face-to-face consultations. Many components of a telehealth consultation are no different than a face-to-face appointment.
Is a telehealth consultation safe?
Telehealth consults allow you to continue your treatment without interruption and without putting you at risk of further injury or health deterioration. They are as safe as regular face-to-face appointments. Your physiotherapist is trained to manage your safety and will carefully assess risks. They may ask you to have a support person with you if they identify any risks, or they may advise that you don’t use telehealth if they do not think it is a safe and effective treatment for you.
Is it covered by Private Health Insurance and Medicare?
Yes. Check with your individual health fund to find out exactly what they will cover for your telehealth appointment.
How will my physiotherapist know if I am progressing?
Your clinical notes will be reviewed at each follow-up appointment and your progress will be tracked via exercise prescription software.
Your physio is an expert in managing your treatment and understands exactly what to look for to ensure that you are improving. They may ask you detailed questions about your pain, or ask to see how well you can move in the affected area. They will adjust your treatment as they monitor your progress in exactly the same way that they would in the clinic.
How is my privacy protected?
Physiotherapists will maintain the same level of privacy standards as they would if you came into the practice, and all physiotherapists adhere to national privacy laws. You can discuss with your physiotherapist how privacy is managed in their practice if you have any concerns. If they wish to record images or video of your consultation, for example how you are performing certain exercises, they will ask for your permission first – you do not have to agree to your session being recorded if you do not want to.