IS IT LEGAL / ETHICAL?
The natural question any PT will ask is whether treating a patient remotely is ethical. After all, we're notorious for our "hands on" approach to patient care. Our governing body, the College of Physical Therapists of BC (CPTBC), endorses the use of telehealth in the physical therapy field, provided there is ultimately a physical therapist (licensed in the patient's own province) responsible for providing the care. The same expectations outlined by our profession’s regulatory body with respect to standards of conduct and code of practice apply regardless if the session is delivered in-person or virtually. See CPTBC statement.
Obviously, telehealth has its limitations. It should not be used to replace an initial consult, and rough estimates that are seen via video camera are different from actual palpation and range of motion data that a therapist can collect in person.
The key is using remote physiotherapy treatments as they are intended:
‣ Presently, to provide access to most aspects of physiotherapy during this COVID crisis.
‣ In the long term, to improve care by increasing patients' access to clinicians. Not only can a patient receive physiotherapy when it might otherwise be geographically unattainable, this patient can actually select a therapist of his or her own choosing, provided he/she can attend an initial evaluation and occasional progress update visits. Location ceases to be a constraint with telehealth.