By Marc Pyatt, PT, Physical Medicine National Product Leader, MTI America
In the age of COVID-19, healthcare providers are looking for new ways to reach injured workers and help support their recovery goals. Healthcare providers are relying on telerehabilitation (or e-rehabilitation or virtual PT) to deliver care. Telerehab means using real-time, two-way electronic audio and visual communication to assess and treat a patient.
Telerehab has many benefits. It increases patient engagement and improves compliance due to the increased one-on-one time between the therapist and the patient. Overall, patients in telerehab miss fewer therapy sessions than those in traditional therapy. Telerehab is lower in cost, as well, due to reduced transportation expenses and less time spent traveling to and from an outpatient clinic from work or home. The results are clear: telerehab leads to successful outcomes and high patient satisfaction.
However, some claims professionals have developed a bias against telerehab based on misinformation, their own beliefs, experiences, or stories they’ve heard from colleagues. Let’s take a look at some of these thoughts, or myths and how they may be overcome.
Myth #1: “Some patients aren’t a good fit.”
It’s true that some patients might not be an ideal fit for telerehab, whether it’s because of their specific injury or their limitations with technology. But even less-than-ideal patients can gain by doing something rather than nothing. Telerehab can help keep patients engaged and prevent regression—putting them on the path to progress. In addition, telerehab allows for open, regular communication between a therapist and patient, helping the injured worker to avoid lethargy, depression, or other psychological complications.
Myth #2: “It’s just streaming video exercises.”
Telerehab is therapy—not just exercises. There is a clear difference between general exercise for fitness and therapeutic exercise. With telerehab, patients are prescribed specific therapeutic exercises tailored to their individual needs with the goal to aid their recovery from an injury or impairment. Perhaps most importantly, in telerehab, therapists continually monitor patients’ progress and assess their improvements toward meeting specific return to work goals.
Myth #3: “I don’t trust it. Where’s the follow up?”
Monitoring and compliance may be one of the areas in which telerehab exceeds even traditional, in-person therapy. Consider the outpatient model of treatment: the therapist might assign home exercises, yet there is no follow up or feedback until the next visit. At that visit, the therapist will need to ask the injured worker to demonstrate the assigned exercises to assess how consistently they performed their home program.
With telerehab, demonstrations can happen in real time. Depending on the platform, therapists can even tell whether a patient has logged in to do the exercises, and for how long. Auto prompts are sent to the patient from the platform to remind them of their exercises. If they still don’t log in and do their exercises, the therapist is alerted and can IM or text to connect with the patient.
Myth #4: “It’s like an injured worker seeing a physician assistant instead of the physician.”
The majority of telerehab healthcare providers are licensed occupational and physical therapists, with some providers being physical therapy assistants or certified occupational therapy assistants. With telerehab, the therapist spends more one-on-one time with the injured worker than in traditional therapy. This one-on-one, undivided attention improves patient engagement and compliance. And remember: research finds that telerehab compels the injured worker to be an active participant instead of a passive recipient in their care, leading to greater patient satisfaction and long-term success.
About Mark Pyatt
Marc currently serves as the Physical Medicine National Product Leader for MTI America. He received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of North Florida. He has worked as a clinician in a variety of settings including outpatient orthopedics, neurology, home health services and in pediatrics for the Florida education system. Prior to joining MTI he served as Senior Clinical Specialist for OneCall. Marc has fulfilled many roles including management team lead, working with state and local government programs streamlining delivery of services and heading up project teams. In 2001, he received his certification in treatment of neurologic and orthopedic populations. He is also experienced with ergonomic assessments and trained in functional capacity evaluations and post-offer and pre-employment screening programs.
Marc has over 9 years experience in workers’ compensation, initially providing clinical oversight for physical medicine services. For the past 6 years, he has provided direct sales support for the marketing of physical medicine products and services. He is also an accomplished CEU educator. Marc is a nationally approved instructor and speaker presenting at industry conferences, national webinars and on-site instruction for adjusters and nurse case managers regarding the provision of physical medicine services for the worker’s compensation injured worker.
About MTI America
MTI America delivers ancillary healthcare solutions to workers’ compensation patients, adjusters and case managers. MTI’s translators collectively speak more than 250 languages, and many are certified in medical or legal communications and are therefore better qualified to guide injured workers through their healthcare experience and educate them about the workers’ compensation system. Seventy-five percent of MTI employees are bi-lingual, so they bring an inherent cultural competence to the table as well. Headquartered in Pompano Beach, Florida. To learn more about MTI America’s professional language and other services, please visit https://www.mtiamerica.com/.
MTI America is a WorkCompWire ad partner.
This is NOT a paid placement.