Telephysio: A treatment option amid COVID-19
Updated: May 6
In an effort to “flatten the curve,” the majority of private practice Physiotherapy clinics across BC have chosen to close their doors. The College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia asked each business to run their own risk assessment and strongly recommended clinics only to remain open for patients with “urgent needs”. The Physiotherapy community wanted to lead by example to show the public how serious the pandemic is and help maximize social distancing.
Quick to adapt and to ensure continuity of care, many clinics are turning to telephysio (also know as telerehab, virtual physio or online physio). This service is a provision of physiotherapy at a distance using communication technology such as video conferencing and other applications. Many of the conditions typically seen in a physiotherapy clinic are now possible to treat using modern technology. In addition to the physiotherapists, many other health care professionals are incorporating telehealth into their practice including doctors, occupational therapists, and dieticians. Research has shown that telephysio assessment and treatment are at least equal to, and in some cases superior to, in-person physiotherapy.
InReach Physio is an online Physiotherapy service that previously treated the majority of their patients in northern and rural communities where in-person Physiotherapy is limited. That has now changed and the business is seeing an increased interest throughout all cities in BC due to closures.
InReach works with all musculoskeletal injuries as well as those who may not be injured and are looking for personalized exercise consulting advice and programming. Their Neuro-rehab therapist treats conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and vestibular disorders.
InReach Physio uses an online booking and billing system that even allows patients to see a therapist on the same day. Their paperless system has you complete all intake and consent forms online. Before your appointment, you get an invite to join a secure (GDRP approved) teleconference. You have the choice of using a computer, phone or tablet. We use the Physiapp for any exercises that are prescribed and this platform has a built in text messenger so the patient and therapist can continue to communicate after the appointment has ended.
Initial assessment are booked hourly and cost $100. The Physiotherapist will begin the assessment by learning about you, your medical history, and the reason for your appointment including goals of treatment. Once discussed, the Physiotherapist will ask you to complete a series of movements to rule in and rule out the cause of your concern or pain. If you do not have any pain and booked an appointment for preventative reasons, the therapist will assess your movement, strength and mobility to best design an independent exercise program. An added benefit is that major extended health plans including but not limited to Pacific Blue Cross, Green Shield, EmpireLife, SunLife, Manulife and Great West Life are reimbursing for tele-services. We do recommended confirming with your provider as it can be policy dependant.
About the author:
Aaron Dobie is co-owner of InReach Online Physiotherapy and a registered Physiotherapist currently treating via telephysio throughout British Columbia.