In this day and age, the advancement of technology has made so many things we once thought impossible possible. And with COVID-19 disrupting normality, new ways of doing things enabled by technology have been discovered. New norms are forming.
This brings us to Telehealth! Telehealth is essentially health services delivered by a healthcare provider over a video call or the phone.
There are plenty of research out there to back up the effectiveness of telehealth. In many ways, telehealth has proven to be as effective as in-person appointments. Some clients even prefer certain aspects of telehealth to in-person appointments. Furthermore, there are also reports that cancellation rates have gone down because it is so much more convenient for clients to attend therapy.
Some worry about the challenges around building trust and rapport with the therapist over telehealth. However, because video calls are the preferred telehealth method for most clients, developing trust and rapport is similar to meeting in person, as it is still face to face albeit on the screen.
People are more comfortable using telehealth for some services – such as psychology and counselling – over others. This boils down to the individual’s expectations of the service. For instance, many of us are uncertain about receiving physiotherapy and exercise physiology via telehealth because it is unfamiliar. We also tend to think that physiotherapy always involves manual therapy such as mobilisation and massage.
However, the truth is a large part of physiotherapy and exercise physiology is exercise-based therapy and education on self-management strategies. This is so that you are empowered to take charge of your own health.
There has been a rise in exercise videos on YouTube and it is just as effective as attending a group exercise class at the gym. You achieve the same things: jelly legs, a pool of sweat on the floor and a racing heart that you swear is about to beat out of your chest. In the long run, you feel yourself get stronger and fitter. And all that is achieved in your living room.
Physiotherapy and exercise physiology are not much different than exercise videos except that it is much more tailored to you and your goals.
Functional capacity assessments can also be completed by an Occupational Therapist over a video call. Measurements can be taken by you or a family member/carer that the Occupational Therapist would otherwise take in person. Technology allows the occupational therapist to view your environment without the need to be there in person.
When it comes to seeing a Dietitian via telehealth, some are hesitant, reporting that the dietitian cannot measure their waistlines and weigh them from across the screen. However, this can easily be resolved by doing these things yourself or have a family member/carer assist. After all, everyone has done this themselves before at home with a simple tape measure and weighing scale.
Everyone has different ideas about what a therapist’s role is in helping you achieve your goal. But all therapists know that their main role is to empower you so that you can achieve anything you want long after your therapy program is completed. The therapist’s job is to guide you and arm you with knowledge which can be done via telehealth.