The Rise of Teletherapy
The technology has powered more opportunities for OTs, PTs, and SLPs to provide remote patient care.
As people grow increasingly dependent on apps and innovation to facilitate everyday tasks, technology’s role in healthcare continues to expand. Nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than with the rise of telemedicine.
Telemedicine, the delivery of patient diagnosis and treatment via telecommunications technology, has grown in popularity because it enables providers to streamline patient-centered care and foster knowledge transfer and consultation.
The success of telemedicine has evolved the healthcare infrastructure, opening the door for more opportunities in specialized care, particularly for physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), and speech language pathologists (SLPs).
Benefits of Telemedicine
Across the United States, providers are incorporating telemedicine into their practices. These remote visits have several benefits for providers, including shorter patient wait times, streamlined workflows, and a reduced number of readmissions, which is particularly important in the current outcome-based environment.
One recent study revealed that telemedicine has a strong impact on patient satisfaction, helping to enhance their overall healthcare experience. One reason is because the online practice fosters frequent two-way communication and information sharing between patient and provider for diagnosis and treatment, which is particularly beneficial for patients in rural areas or who may have difficulty with travel.
Telemedicine also plays a strong role in enhancing postoperative care because it provides more on-demand access to providers who can answer questions or provide follow-up instructions and care.
But a second advantage is more pragmatic. Electronic communication enables the patient to take care of necessary healthcare-related tasks, like paying bills or requesting reimbursement.
SLPs are using a branch of telemedicine called telepractice (also called teletherapy) to treat patients. Like telemedicine, telepractice provides treatment at a distance, but it uses high-quality telecommunications technology and audio equipment to assess, treat, or consult with patients. On its website, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that telepractice empowers speech language pathologists to assess patients or provide supervision, mentoring, pre-service, and continuing education.
PTs and OTs also see the application of telemedicine rise within their specialties. For example, PTs have used telemedicine to better support patient-focused needs, such as checking therapy progress, demonstrating or reviewing exercise plans, and answering questions.
OTs can interact with patients in real-time who are located within a specific environment and provide them with customized treatment to strengthen necessary skills at home, work, or school.
For SLPs, PTs, and OTs, telemedicine brings new opportunities and greater job flexibility. Providing treatment remotely also affords providers with the ability to work from home, assist an array of patients and providers, and fill their resumes with a variety of clinical settings and experiences.