A manuscript authored by a team from The Vert Mooney Research Foundation (DBA US Spine & Sport Foundation) and Spine & Sport Physical Therapy (www.spineandsport.com) was recently published in the APTA Physical Therapy Journal of Policy, Administration, and Leadership:
Katz R, Schwartz S, Phelps B, Faust S, Mortimer D, Verna JL, Mayer JM. Telehealth in physical therapy practice for musculoskeletal disorders: case series. The APTA Physical Therapy Journal of Policy, Administration, and Leadership, November 2022.
The manuscript reports on the development and implementation of a telehealth program during the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel aspects of being an early adopter of physical therapy telehealth in a private practice environment, along with research design and analysis via a non-profit foundation, are particularly noteworthy. An abstract of the published manuscript is shown below.
Study Design: Administrative case report.
Objectives: The objectives of this paper are to: 1. summarize the current regulatory considerations for physical therapy telehealth services for musculoskeletal disorders; 2. describe the implementation process of a telehealth program by an outpatient physical therapy organization across its 20 clinics during the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic; and 3. provide recommendations for regulatory, organizational and research changes needed to support implementation of long-term telehealth services in musculoskeletal physical therapy practice.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted the delivery of healthcare services. Telehealth provides a possible solution for improving delivery of services by enhancing access and fostering patient-centered approaches but has not been well-described in physical therapy practice.
Methods: The implementation processes of telehealth services by a large outpatient physical therapy center in California are described. Three patient cases are summarized for a more detailed description of the experience.
Analysis: Telehealth services were successfully implemented in a large outpatient physical therapy center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial responses from patients with musculoskeletal disorders and physical therapists about telehealth services were positive.
Conclusions: Telehealth has the potential to enhance physical therapy practice, though its specific structure and magnitude are unclear. Regulatory and organizational changes as well as research trials are needed to help clarify the role of telehealth.