For many in the rehab therapy industry, the thought of implementing telehealth can feel somewhat uncertain. Is it going to be effective? Are patients going to like it? Is it an all-or-nothing choice? How do I go about getting started? All of these are fantastic questions we should be asking before choosing to make changes to how we treat and serve our patients.
Luckily, we do have some concrete answers to these important questions. Through the results of a recent research study and thanks to some resources compiled by industry experts, we now have all the information we need to make an informed decision about whether or not to implement telehealth and, if so, how to go about doing it.
Lessons Learned from a Recent Study on the Efficacy of Telehealth
Recently, Focus on Therapeutic Outcomes (FOTO), a Net Health company that provides outcomes management software for rehab therapists, released a study1 looking at how well telehealth works for rehab therapy and what patient satisfaction looks like. And for anyone who might still be on the fence about whether or not telehealth can prosper under a stress-test as strong as the recent pandemic, the results are promising.
- Telehealth and non-telehealth care were equally effective for improving the functional status of patients.
- During the study, the average number of visits when some degree of telehealth was utilized was 2-3 fewer than when no telehealth was used.
- Patients were equally satisfied with their care, whether no telehealth, some telehealth, or all telehealth was used during the course of treatment.
In simpler terms and to answer many of the posed questions on the efficacy of telehealth in rehab therapy, there was no drop-off in positive results and no drop-off in patient satisfaction when any degree of telehealth was used. And the cherry on top during the study is that when telehealth was used, all of this happened in 2-3 fewer visits.
Is Telehealth in Rehab Therapy an All-Or-None Decision?
An important caveat of the data to point out is that these positive results were present at all intensity levels of telehealth treatment. In other words, you don’t have to offer 100% telehealth services to a patient to start seeing the benefits. If you’re looking to slowly integrate telehealth, use it to boost your current treatment plans, or just give it a test run, these are all fruitful options.
Resources to Help
The next logical question building off the positive results of the study is how to get started. Anytime we make a significant change to how we offer care, it’s imperative to have a clear and easy-to-follow roadmap from start to finish.
To help on this journey, a team of experts at Net Health has put together a completely free e-book that outlines 4 Steps for Telehealth Success. The team walks us through how to assemble the right telehealth team, how to pick the right technology tools, how to modify our processes to ensure we get paid, and how to educate and promote the benefits of telehealth.
It’s a must-read if you’re ready to take the next step with implementing telehealth into your rehab therapy practice in any capacity.
4 Tips for Telehealth Success
A Practical Guide for Implementing Telehealth in Rehab Therapy Practices
1Overview of Telehealth and Outcomes in Rehabilitation,” Mark Werneke, PT, MS, Dip. MDT, Daniel Deutscher, PT, PhD, Deanna Hayes, PT, DPT, MS