The critical need for physiotherapists to adopt digital health technologies

 

In part two of the three-part series, Barry Nguyen, APAM, writes that this is a time of urgent need for physiotherapists to innovate, and consider exploring digital health technologies and telehealth practices. 

COVID-19 has presented significant challenges and opportunities for physiotherapists, practices and entrepreneurs operating in our industry.

Undoubtedly, there are businesses that are thriving during this pandemic, while others are struggling to make ends meet, and some have closed down completely.

Businesses that have adapted to the new landscape by either adopting, implementing or building digital health technologies or telehealth solutions will create new opportunities for themselves while serving their local communities.

These technological solutions enable physiotherapists to deliver their services remotely, and with better customer service experiences.

Telehealth provides an alternative choice for your patients to physical consultations—which have been negatively impacted by recent social distancing measures instilled to curb the rate of infection.

With so much uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, not even experts can confidently predict the future or how our lives may change, temporarily or permanently.

Private health insurance company Bupa recently published a press release demonstrating that physiotherapy telehealth services were one of the most popular, next to psychology, during the COVID-19 pandemic (tinyurl.com/y9l7cjn5).

The physiotherapy digital health ecosystem related to telehealth

There is a lot of talk in the physiotherapy space about telehealth and digital health. This can be challenging to keep up with as a physiotherapist, so the following is a summary of some solutions physiotherapists may be interested in learning more about.

Note that this is not about product endorsement or providing an exhaustive list of companies operating in this space; the aim is to provide you with an idea of current trends and insights on emerging solutions in our market. You should do your own due diligence before using any of the following solutions.

Telehealth videoconferencing solutions

The following are videoconferencing solutions popular among physiotherapists, serving different workflow purposes, patient needs and varying in price points, including freemium models. 

These include but are not limited to:

  • Coviu—dedicated telehealth videoconferencing platform developed specifically for Australian health professionals
  • Physitrack—exercise prescription, messaging and tracking platform with integrated videoconferencing functionality, designed for physiotherapists
  • dorsaVi Telehealth—exercise prescription, scheduling and tracking platform with videoconferencing functionality designed for physiotherapists
  • TeleHab by VALD Health—exercise prescription and tracking platform with videoconferencing functionality designed for physiotherapists
  • Doxy.Me—dedicated telehealth videoconferencing platform developed specifically for health professionals from the US
  • Zoom—a popular platform used by physiotherapists due to its powerful group videoconferencing feature (which is now integrated with popular practice management software used by physiotherapists, such as Nookal and PMPP).

Mature digital platforms adding new videoconferencing solutions

The following are mature digital platforms that usually provide other services but which have recently launched their own videoconferencing functionality.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Cliniko—allied health practice management software
  • Nookal—allied health practice management software
  • Coreplus—allied health practice management software
  • HealthEngine—online booking marketplace.

Digital payment solutions

The following are digital payment solutions that are commonly used for telehealth consultations. These include but are not limited to:

  • Stripe—emerging digital payment solution used by many companies around the world
  • PayPal—mature leading payment solution used by many companies around the world
  • Lantern Pay—leading digital payment claiming platform for use with TAC and NDIS
  • Medipass—dedicated digital payment solution designed for allied health professionals.

Online booking directories and on-demand service marketplaces These are less-known emerging online booking directories physiotherapists may want to consider that directly relate to COVID-19 (includes telehealth and home visits).

These include but are not limited to:

  • Bruno Health—cloud-based platform connecting physiotherapists to local patients
  • Owner Health—home visit physiotherapy marketplace that allows practitioners to add themselves to the directory and connects them to local patients.

It is an exciting time in digital health and telehealth for physiotherapy. This window of opportunity enables physiotherapists to incorporate digital health technologies, innovate their service delivery models with telehealth and provide the local communities they serve with better access and convenience to their services.

Some of these innovations may produce better clinical outcomes and improve patient satisfaction levels beyond what was imagined possible.

Note: Coviu and TeleHab are APA-endorsed partners.

>> Part three of the three part series on COVID-19 and telehealth physiotherapy will provide a general overview of how digital health technologies and telehealth practices may change the face of physiotherapy in the future. 

Disclaimer: This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or meet the specific needs of your clinical context.

 

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