Can A Manual Therapy Physiotherapy Service Work Online?
Up until now we have been known as a hands-on, manual therapy practice. We pride ourselves on our technical skills and training and our experience garnered over years of learning, practising and refining our techniques and patient management. I hire my clinical team above all for their professional qualifications and practical, manual therapy skills.
The clinic closed on Friday the 20th of March, a few days ahead of the government‘s formal notice, in order to protect our patients and staff. Since then, we have worked hard to transition to an Online Remote Consultation and Advice service. To be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope for the success of this venture. It has been discussed at length on our professional forums with many clinics opting to close their doors until life returns to normal rather than try it.
So how is it going? The uptake, and positive feedback has been surprising, to say the very least and it has changed my understanding of the service we provide. I have come to realise that clients don’t always come to us for manual therapy techniques. Of course, these can be very helpful, they can speed up the process of regaining normal movement and can promote healing. What clients come to us primarily for is an outcome. This might be the improvement or elimination of pain, the restoration of a normal activity or function, but it can also be for advice on the best thing to do at that particular time, or the reassurance that they are doing the right thing and going in the right direction with their rehabilitation and we can still provide all of that in a remote consultation.
In a Remote Video Consultation, we can visually assess bruising, swelling, and deformity; we can assess ranges of movement and functional activities. The history taking and goal setting is exactly the same as if the patient and physiotherapist were sat side-by-side in our clinic rooms. We can advise, teach, correct and encourage optimal movement patterns and tailor-make an exercise programme just as we would normally do.
We are using Skpe, Facetime, Whatsapp and Zoom to deliver Video Consultations. The best method we have found is the one favoured by the client, ideally something they have used before and are comfortable with.
A lot of information and advice can also be shared in a Telephone Consultation for clients without the technical capabilities or desire to have a Video appointment. This has been a very popular choice especially where the patient is an existing client and has seen us before in the clinic.
Some of the reviews and comments so far have been:
“I wanted to let you know that I now have no pain and can do my proper number of steps a day. I’m so grateful for your advice. It was a relief to talk it through and I’m sure the exercises helped” (following a telephone consultation)
“The sessions have been useful. It is also reassuring to know that I can get advice remotely if my shoulder takes a setback over this period. I really appreciate this” (following a video consultation)
"This week had a phone consultation about an excruciatingly painful back/leg problem. Had to be phone because of the lockdown. To all intents and purposes it was just as effective as the excellent treatment I have had at this practice before" (Trustpilot review from existing client)
Looking forward to keeping our patients moving in this difficult time. (Referring Orthopaedic Surgeon)
The insurance companies also have been surprising flexible of this new way of working. The majority such as Axa PPP, and BUPA have agreed to fund remote consultations at this time – video and phone in the same way as traditional face-to-face appointments.
So it seems that we can be helpful in these challenging times and support our clients albeit while our hands get a bit of a rest.
This is a whole new world and while we look forward to getting back to our normal routine and service provision in hopefully happier and safer times, these new services will most likely continue to exist alongside our existing services for clients unable to visit us in person due to various reasons - extended social distancing advice, home moves or simply preference.
Please get in touch if we can help in any way. Our team is available to offer Remote Consultations by Video or Telephone – see our website for further details or call us to have a chat about your requirements.
Stay safe and well.
Helen Skehan is the Director and Team Leader of Physio Solutions
"Just wanted to say a big thank you for straightening out my back, didn't believe it was possible and now I feel great, you're a star!"