Telehealth Project Update: Interim results now available

Earlier this year The University of Melbourne in collaboration with researchers at the University of Queensland and Flinders University, invited Australian Physiotherapists to participate in a Physiotherapy Research Foundation funded project which investigated the effectiveness of Telehealth by physiotherapists in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Requirements for participating physiotherapists included being registered to practice in Australia, working in private practice or community health, and delivering physiotherapy care via videoconference (VC).

The project involves clinicians, telehealth experts, business owners and funding bodies. It has engaged 212 physiotherapists and 388 patients and the first round of surveys have been completed. 

The interim findings of this study bode well for the advocacy of ongoing funding for physiotherapy telehealth services.

In summary, of 388 patients surveyed nationally;

  • 74% are willing to pay for service via telehealth
  • 88% of Telehealth was covered by Private Health Insurance
  • 30% of all participants are over 60 years old 
  • 60% used Telehealth to ease pain
  • 90% felt safe using Telehealth services 
  • 60% are likely to use it again after the pandemic 

The sample comprises more women (77% females) compared with men (23% males), with both genders stating they are extremely confident with using technology, and more than half are seeking treatment for problems that have existed for more than 12 months.

Of the 212 physiotherapists surveyed, 80% are in private practice, 10% in outpatient services and 7% in community health. Physitrack is the main choice for one-on-one videoconferencing — the most popular consultation, while Zoom the most popular for group classes. More than 80% of clinicians say they didn’t have training before offering telehealth, with 47% treating less than 10 patients before COVID-19.

For more information and to read the full interim report please click here

In November the final round of patient surveys will take place and the study will be completed by December 2020. The final report will be published by March 2021.