In-Person PT or Telehealth: Know Your Options!
Last week's blog, Take Charge of Your Day with PT360, highlighted the many classes we are currently offering via Zoom video conferencing. Hopefully many of you have taken advantage of some of these options to maintain your fitness (and sanity!) during the Stay Home, Stay Safe period.
While COVID-19 has altered the way PT360 is operating and providing services, we understand that it has not changed the fact that some of you are still experiencing aches and pains or sustaining injuries. So many of us are trying to juggle working from home while taking care of children and family, and thus it may be challenging to find time for self-care right now. In addition, some of you are likely weighing the risks and benefits of seeking in-person care during this time.
The good news is it appears that Vermont has weathered this storm better than many other states, and the peak period of new cases now promises to be behind us. However, as somewhat “normal” life slowly returns, it will be critically important that we all continue to take precautions to limit any further spread of the virus, particularly to our more vulnerable populations.
PT360 would like our patients to know just how seriously we are taking such precautions and that our patients have options. As we gradually start to reopen our doors to more in-clinic care, we will continue to offer Telehealth as an alternative mode of treatment. Whether you are immunocompromised or wishing to continue practicing self-isolation, you will still have the option to receive the guidance and expertise of our therapists from the comfort and safety of your home. While Telehealth has been around for awhile, it certainly has not been commonplace until COVID-19 and many of you may have questions about what it entails. See below for some FAQs about our Telehealth services.
For those patients who would like to resume in-clinic care, PT360 has implemented several procedures to maximize the safety of our patients and staff. This includes thorough cleaning of treatment surfaces and equipment between every session and hourly cleaning of high touch points, such as doorknobs. We will be screening each patient and employee every time they enter the clinic, asking about any recent symptoms related to COVID-19, and taking temperatures and oxygen saturation levels. To maintain social distancing and avoid congestion in the waiting area, we are having patients wait in their cars until their appointment begins and having them schedule future appointments with their therapist instead of at the front desk. In addition, both the therapist and patient will be wearing masks and washing their hands during every session.
If there is one thing this pandemic has taught us, it’s that it takes a village to save a village and PT360 feels fortunate to be part of the greater “village” of Vermont and the Champlain Valley. While there are many unknowns right now, such as if and when things will return to “normal,” we can assure our patients that we will continue to prioritize everyone’s safety and provide care that matches our patients’ needs and comfort levels.
What exactly is Telehealth Physical Therapy?
Telehealth Physical Therapy is 1-on-1 therapy, provided by a licensed physical therapist, physical therapy assistant, and/or a certified athletic trainer via a technology platform. Typically, Telehealth visits include audio and video communications between the patient and therapist and can be conducted on a variety of devices, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones.
How is the privacy of the patient protected during a Telehealth visit?
PT360 conducts Telehealth through Doxy.me. This online platform adheres to HIPAA guidelines and utilizes special encryptions to protect patient information. In addition, your therapist will maintain your privacy by making sure your telehealth sessions are provided in a quiet room, without others present.
What is a Telehealth session like?
Before your Telehealth appointment, your therapist will email you a link to Doxy.me. Following this link allows you to “check in” to your session. Your therapist will then “start” the session and you will be able to see and hear your therapist on your device and vice versa. This face-to-face interaction allows you to update your therapist on your condition and your therapist can guide you through some exercises. Depending on what your therapist has in store for you, it might be helpful to set up your device in a room with open floor space for moving around.
Is Telehealth as beneficial as being treated in person?
There is promising research emerging on the effectiveness and advantages of Telehealth Physical Therapy. While there are certainly many conditions and injuries that necessitate in-person assessment and treatment, and there is something invaluable about the person-to-person interaction, a large portion of the skilled care physical therapists provide can be relayed via a video/audio interface. For example, a large part of physical therapy is verbal patient education; explaining the nature of your condition or injury and reviewing your plan of care, discussing techniques for pain management or improving function, offering suggestions for optimizing work station ergonomics, etc. Another major facet of physical therapy is instruction and review of exercises. Nearly every patient is assigned a home exercise program, therefore it makes total sense to select and observe those exercises in the patient’s home environment!
Will my insurance cover a Telehealth PT session? Do I still have a copay?
Currently, all major insurance plans cover Telehealth Physical Therapy, including Medicare, Medicaid, BCBS, MVP, Aetna, UHC, Cigna, and more. However, it is always a good idea to call your insurance company to confirm, as individual plans may vary. Telehealth appointments are billed the same as in-person sessions and similarly go toward your deductible. In addition, if you had a copay for in-person appointments, you will have the same copay for your Telehealth appointment. We now offer the option of paying online through our website!
If I start out doing Telehealth PT, can I eventually switch to in-person?
Yes! While we are continuing to screen patients coming for in-person therapy, it will be an easy, seamless transition from Telehealth once the patient and therapist decide to make that change.
Do you have other questions about Telehealth that weren’t addressed above? Visit our Telehealth PT page on our website and contact one of our therapists. They would be happy to answer any additional questions!