Physical Therapy Business Tips

Should You Offer Virtual Physical Therapy? What To Know

updated on

May 16, 2024

Should You Offer Virtual Physical Therapy? What To Know

Few things have taken the healthcare world by storm as clearly as virtual physical therapy. In fact, services like telehealth are becoming so common that not knowing how to offer them could actually hurt your business.

Because virtual PT is a relatively new concept, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn more about it and potentially enhance the success of your clinic. In this article we’re going to break down what telehealth physical therapy is, what it can do, who it can benefit, and how to implement best practices into your workflows.

Let’s get going!

What Is Telehealth Physical Therapy?

Telehealth physical therapy is a physical therapy service where a patient meets with their provider through video conferencing, which allows for a variety of interventions to be performed. With telehealth, many elements of a patient’s plan of care can be acted on without the typical constraints of in-person treatment.

As one of the earliest options available to patients, telehealth is one of the most established forms of virtual physical therapy available today.

In addition to telehealth, virtual PT can include a number of other services such as home exercise programs, motion tracking technology, and other patient engagement tools that may be monitored by the patient’s physical therapy team.

Benefits of Virtual Physical Therapy?

Virtual physical therapy has many benefits for patients, including increased accessibility, remote exercise monitoring, and significant time savings. Virtual physical therapy is also a valuable tool for clinics who want to reach more patients and provide better care to the patients they currently serve.

Accessible To More Patients

Virtual physical therapy provides alternative avenues to physical therapy for patients who may not be able to receive care in a traditional clinic setting. Common obstacles that virtual care helps patients overcome include having reliable transportation, getting time off from work, and affording the financial cost of care.

Enables Remote Exercise Monitoring

Although hands-on interventions can’t be performed through telehealth, exercise is a major part of physical therapy for most patients in need of care. Virtual physical therapy allows physical therapists to guide their patients through exercise sessions while providing instructions and feedback along the way.

Benefits of virtual physical therapy

Saves Time

One of the biggest benefits of virtual physical therapy is that it saves both patients and providers valuable time. For example, patients attending virtual care sessions save the time of driving to a clinic, sitting in the waiting room, and waiting in line for assistance before or after their appointment.

Virtual PT is backed by a lot of different organizations, most notably the American Physical Therapy association (APTA). In recent years, the APTA has released statements in support of telehealth physical therapy as an important part of today’s treatment models.

What Physical Therapy Services Can Be Provided Virtually?

Now that you’re up to speed with some of the biggest potential benefits of offering virtual physical therapy, you’re probably wondering what type of services you can offer to your patients through virtual means. 

Some of the most common virtual physical therapy services offered include evaluating new patients, assessing a patient’s progress, and providing feedback on exercise performance. Given that many patients do not need hands-on treatment, a large portion of patient care may be provided through virtual means.

Evaluating New Patients

Although most people think of an evaluation as something that needs to be done in person, there are plenty of cases where a patient’s first appointment can be done virtually. During the virtual evaluation, the physical therapist can determine if the patient can receive care virtually, come in for an in-person appointment, or be referred to another healthcare provider entirely.

For many patients, this reduces friction around scheduling their first appointment and can actually help them get access to the expertise that they need more quickly. It’s a win-win! In fact, The Musculoskeletal Journal of Hospital for Special Surgery has reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients were actually just as satisfied with virtual PT as they were with in-person care.

Assessing Patient Progress

While patient progress has historically been assessed in the clinic, virtual PT offers many methods to get the same information. For example, a patient being assessed virtually can demonstrate movement tests, report symptoms, and even show off their range of motion!

Virtual progress assessments are especially helpful for patients who aren’t as reliable with making their appointments in the clinic. By providing an alternative option, you can help them stay consistent and motivated with their plan of care.

Evaluating And Monitoring Patient Exercise

Patient exercise is an essential component of physical therapy for so many patients, and virtual physical therapy makes supervising exercise easy in two ways: 

  • First, physical therapists can monitor their patients’ exercise sessions through telehealth video conferencing. 
  • Second, interactive home exercise program software can be used to monitor a patient’s exercise performance and consistency.

By combining virtual tools such as telehealth and interactive home exercise programs, exercise can become a simpler and more consistent part of your practice.

Offering Virtual Appointments As Another Option For Patients

Patients face a lot of struggles when it comes to finding and receiving the physical therapy that they need to recover from injuries and improve their health. To help them with this, it’s part of a physical therapist’s job to minimize these struggles and provide the best care possible with personalized treatment plans.

In addition to in-person appointments, offering virtual appointments to patients can help them overcome typical obstacles in scheduling and attract a new client base to your clinic. Virtual physical therapy appointments may be offered as a standalone service, or as a hybrid service combined with in-person care to optimize outcomes.

Offering Virtual Appointments As Another Option For Patients

Marketing Tips So Current And New Clients Know You Offer Virtual Appointments

Most clinic owners know that if you don’t have a way to market your services to potential clients, then you may as well not have a service to offer in the first place. With effective physical therapy marketing strategies to advertise your virtual PT services, you can reach more potential clients and help more people access the great services offered by your clinic.

When it comes to current clients, word-of-mouth is an effective strategy to let them know you’re offering virtual sessions. During the initial evaluation or first few appointments, let your patient know (if it’s appropriate for them) that they can schedule virtual appointments to save time and energy.

When reaching out to new clients, your website is a great place to show off your new virtual therapy offerings. To catch the attention of potential clients viewing your website, add a colorful banner encouraging patients to learn about virtual physical therapy. If you have the resources available, you can also add a scheduling tool that helps patients prepare for their first appointment more easily.

What Makes A Virtual Session Successful?

Providing great virtual physical therapy can require some training, but knowing how to make the most of your virtual sessions can make a big difference in the lives of the patients you serve. So, what makes a great virtual session.

A good virtual physical therapy session depends on a physical therapist’s ability to provide accurate evaluation of the patient in their home environment, excellent care that follows established practice guidelines, and a personalized treatment plan that continues to adapt to the changing needs of the patient.

As one of the most important parts of quality patient care, a reliable practice management software can make the difference between inadequate and excellent. ClinicSense’s physical therapy software makes it easy to book and manage appointments online, send appointment reminders to patients, create treatment packages, automate wellness check-ins, and customize your SOAP notes.

Remember, great virtual physical therapy is a combination of touch points including everything from appointment scheduling to accurately documenting a patient’s progress. While telehealth can be a major part of your patient’s virtual PT journey (readily available through several video platforms) it’s only one component of a well-balanced virtual approach to care!

With the help of a free trial of ClinicSense for your physical therapy practice, you can support your virtual physical therapy workflows, reach more patients, and change more lives.

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