PT Telemedicine during COVID

By Jay Herrera, DPT
Categories: ,

Physiotherapist man giving exercise with dumbbell treatment About Arm and Shoulder of athlete male patient Physical therapy concept

Corona Virus, COVID-19 – Can telemedicine help for PT treatment:

As you may have heard, CMS (Medicare) is now paying for Physical Therapy (PT) Telehealth visits. Other insurance such as private insurances are and will follow to allow this as well.

What this means is that if you required or desired physical therapy during the shelter in place or don’t want to go to a Physical Therapy clinic during the pandemic but didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to pay cash, your insurance carrier may very well pay for you to attend.

Only a small fraction of Physical Therapy providers have offered telemedicine visits primarily due to no insurance support. Now, you will be seeing many Physical Therapy providers offering ongoing Physical Therapy management of a patient via Telehealth visitation.

But…there are a few caveats you will need to be aware of if you choose to have insurance pay for your Telehealth Physical Therapy visits.

  1. In order for CMS (Medicare) to reimburse for a PT Telehealth visit, the patient has to already be under the care of that licensed provider. Meaning, that you will have had to have an in person examination by the PT and a plan of care established as a result of that in person visit.
  2. You will be allowed only ( 7 ) Telehealth PT visits.
  3. Reimbursement is poor for PT Telehealth visits at the time of writing this article therefore some providers may  choose not to offer these services.
  4. Video conferencing is ideal so both you and your PT can see each other and any movement/positions can be demonstrated. With that said, if video is not an option, a simple phone conversation can still be helpful.
  5. With Telehealth PT you will typically be asked a series of questions and asked to implement self positions and actions to help progress your PT session to being an effective one. There is always an opportunity to undergo education regarding your condition and plan of care.

Since effective physical therapy care is often experienced with a hands-on approach, the Telehealth visit will be somewhat atypical and therefore a limitation in effectiveness for certain conditions is to be expected. With that said, by working closely with your licensed provider, your Telehealth physical therapy session can be as effective as possible in helping you progress to your maximum rehab potential.

You do not necessarily need fancy equipment to have an effective home physical therapy session. There are many patients who have undergone home physical therapy without extensive equipment and with the guidance of a competent Physical Therapist, you can still have great value with a Telehealth physical therapy session.

If you are interested in pursuing Telehealth physical therapy then follow up with your local physical therapy clinic of choice and ask about your options. The clinic will be able to confirm with your insurance on your behalf and explain your options for skilled physical therapy services