WHAT IS VIRTUAL CARE?
There are many terms describing this relatively new form of health care deliivery. Most terms are referring to the same thing, but here is some clarification:
Virtual Care or Virtual Health, also called TeleHealth, is the service delivery of healthcare, whether clinical or educational, through telecommunication channels (telephone or video-conferencing).
Virtual Therapy, Virtual Rehabilitation or, TeleRehabilitation is a sub-group that describes the delivery of Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Kinesiology via telecommunication channels.
Virtual Care (or TeleHealth) services are in full compliance with Professional Regulatory Bodies (Occupational Therapy, Physicians, Physical Therapy, Psychology) with respect to their College guidelines, policies and practice directives. For more information, see Is It Legal/Ethical.
Most aspects of patient care can benefit from this approach:
‣ Interviewing to gather critical information on the history of your particular problem(s). This is often the most important part of an assessment. Being able to focus quality time on this is highly beneficial.
‣ Reviewing of any diagnostic imaging and reports.
‣ Observing and investigating your physical abilities and limitations.
‣ Establishing a working diagnosis, and forming a treatment plan.
‣ Providing education and information on:
- anatomy and mechanism of injury.
- care, precautions, posture and positioning as required.
- pain management: including how to think of safe/non-harmful strategies in regards to activity and pain that allows for improvement (versus danger/harmful thinking that will hinder progress).
- reviewing expectations of how injury will recover
- other self-management techniques such as massage, mobilizations, relaxation
‣ Setting up and/or reviewing an active home exercise program including functional activities.
‣ Encouraging safe activity, self-pacing, and graded progressions to return to normal lifestyle.
‣ Determining requirements for home treatment methods such as using elastic tubing/Theraband; weights (soup cans or milk jugs); towels/belts; balance balls or balance boards; foam rolling or trigger point ball techniques; self-mobilizing fascia with hands or tools; pain relief with ice, heat, or consideration of portable TNS or IFC units.
‣ Assessing the possibility of enlisting the assistance of a family member for some treatments.
Virtual Care is also valuable for the following reasons:
‣ Provides a good way to stay connected, make sure everything is progressing in a positive manner, and allows the ability to make any corrections/modification to treatment/exercises as needed.
‣ Studies have shown that Virtual Care can help in increasing patient compliance to encourage success in achieving longer term benefits.
‣ Ease to use, flexible, convenient scheduling, involves no traveling, and costs less than conventional appointments - all in comfort of your own home.
‣ Avoids delay of treatment or ignoring the problem, wherein problems often get worse.
‣ Prevent re-injury that can occur if home programs or appointments are discontinued.
‣ Encourages injury prevention and injury recovery programs.