Everyone will be aware that social distancing and self-isolation measures are making exercise tricky at the moment, but it can be even harder to get physiotherapy treatment during the pandemic. Fortunately, we have measures in place to ensure patients can still access the care they need.
St John and St Elizabeth Hospital’s Head of Therapies, Carrie Mattinson, has overseen the introduction of virtual physiotherapy consultations so the team can continue to ‘see’ patients even at this difficult time – without patients having to leave the comfort and safety of their home.
Here she explains why you might need an online consultation, how they work and how you can go about getting one.
Some conditions won’t require a virtual session
It’s important to make sure that an online consultation is appropriate for the patient’s condition, so we have a telephone triage session on receiving the referral to get some initial information about the patient’s history, condition and what they are looking to achieve.
This is also the time that we can flag any issues that require a referral on to another medical professional. Some injuries/conditions will require a face-to-face appointment, and if it is urgent we’ll arrange one – but under the current circumstances we need to weigh up the risks and benefits of every case individually.
At the moment, we are seeing a wide variety of injuries in both our Musculoskeletal Team and Hand Therapy service. If people aren’t sure they can just give us a call to discuss it and put their mind at ease.
Here’s how an online consultation works
We carry out our virtual sessions via Skype, by sending out an invite to the patient’s skype ID (they can easily create an account if they don’t yet have one) prior to the consultation.
The format is very similar to a normal face-to-face appointment in that it lasts for about 45-60 minutes, during which we take a full history and then – depending on the injury or condition – ask the patient to try a few movements, show us the area or ask them about activities that aggravate the symptoms.
We can then agree a treatment plan with the patient, giving them exercises and advice which can be sent out using our online exercise software, which provides videos of the exercises to make them a little easier to understand.
Follow-ups last for 30-minutes, during which we review the patient’s progress and then update any exercises. Patients can also ask questions and run through any exercises they are unsure of.
Our patients are enjoying the virtual service
Patients are pleased that we have found a solution that allows them to be seen while staying safe and avoiding unnecessary travel during the pandemic. They are also reassured that if we feel they need onward referral or a face-to-face we can still offer those services – although the physiotherapist looks a little different at the moment given that they’re wearing an apron, mask and gloves!
We are accepting new and repeat patients, but new referrals must complete an initial telephone triage
The process for being referred remains the same – patients can be referred by their GP or consultant, or they can self refer. Many of the insurers are working with us to continue to deliver care online, and patients wishing to use their insurance should contact their insurer for details and an authorisation code
There is a self-pay option available
Initial consultations run to 60 minutes and cost £120 (telephone triage is included at no charge), while follow-up appointments last 30 minutes and cost £68.
To contact our physiotherapy unit please call +44 20 7806 4010 or email [email protected]