Telemedicine is defined as “the practice of caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present with each other.” While the coronovirus and its social distancing has currently expedited the process, telemedicine has been a growing trend in healthcare for years. You may have already noticed this with some types of physicians, but is also now expanding to PA’s, PT’s, OT’s, and speech and language pathologists. Here are some key points to understand!
The most important thing to consider is if you may be a good candidate for telemedicine. By nature, a healthcare provider will not be able to touch you through a screen, so if you feel you need the healthcare provider to touch or manipulate tissues, this will not be a good option for you. Telemedicine follows a coaching model, so it is more focused on observation, assessment, and education. For physical therapy in particular, this still includes many things. A PT can do all of the following in a telehealth visit: get a subjective history, assess posture, gait, active range of motion and balance, educate on current findings and explain diagnoses. Furthermore, a PT is able to give home exercises, demonstrate them to you, watch you do them and give instructions on ways to progress or modify them. A hybrid method can also be used where one does in person and virtual visits.
Another important question is always cost. Until now, a lot of telemedicine has been a cash based service. As a cash based service it may have had fewer restrictions as it does not have to abide by requirements of an insurance company to get reimbursed. However, many private pay insurances are coming around to this feature as they learn the value it offers. Patients and medical offices can call insurance benefits on a case by case basis to verify which practitioners and what services are covered by their plan. Coronavirus has caused more insurance companies to cover it but it is unclear if they will go back afterwards.
A final question to ask would be about safety, privacy, and compliance with healthcare regulations. And the answer is mostly yes! There are several platforms that are HIPAA (privacy) compliant. This means that you need a secure patient portal to log into that has a username and password, is encrypted and has features like messaging, recording and sharing videos safely. Other platforms that we are more familiar with like Facebook and YouTube can not guarantee this. As always, your healthcare provider will document the telemedicine visit the same as they would for an in person visit so that all information is retained.
We are here to serve you. We have Telemedicine appointments available for your convenience with physical therapy and physicians. Learn more at www.mmidocs.com or call 301-694-8311 for your appointment today. We have Urgent Care services, on site x-ray, casting & bracing and same day appointments for anyone who needs to be seen in the office for urgent injuries. We look forward to helping you soon.