Woodrow Wilson said “If you want to make enemies, try to change something”.
Normally I’d say that is very true, but the interesting case of Telemedicine in Pennsylvania is one thing disproving this axiom. Finally, after years of being one of 9 states in the country without formally addressing the ability of a physical therapist to perform electronic (non face to face) visits via telehealth, Pennsylvania has abruptly changed its stance. And those of us ahead of this curve are thrilled. Prior to this earth shakingly fast policy shift, the total ignorance of the modality was supported by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) another snail paced organization not addressing it by refusing to reimburse for the service. As Woodrow Wilson (never) said, if CMS doesn’t pay, no other private insurer will pay, therefore, well, very few physical therapy (providers) businesses offered a service patients would have to pay out of pocket for.
Why did this happen inside of 72 hours after years of inattention? The reality of sheltering in place required by the coronavirus has been more effective than any dollars donated to our PA political action committees. First patients drove it with the simple question, "why can't you..." followed by soon to be laid off physical therapists scratching their heads and saying, I don’t understand my Practice Act and ultimately business owners realizing they can make money with it...especially since CMS couldn't explain their 20th century position on the matter and chose to begin reimbursing providers (and somehow having the time to whip together a multi page policy on the matter) immediately.
How can telemedicine work for physical therapy patients who may be in need of joint mobilization and manual treatment, or at the very least stretching or tactile cuing? Well it cannot replace hands on care. That is the unique service we supply and patients will always need, but it is not the only intervention we offer. Telehealth encourages renewed focus on education, patient understanding of their issue(s) and the home execution of the patient's portion of their plan of care. This often gets lost in the collaborative environment of the face to face visit. Using Skype, Facetime, Clocktree (my portal) or simply a phone call, electronic visits offer a chance to focus on self-management, exercise technique, environmental set ups and even modifications and home decision making. Ultimately putting the patient back in the driver’s seat managing their health.
If you’d like to experience a session with me and you are a current patient of mine you have 2 options: you can reach out directly through Clocktree telehealth a service I have had a relationship with since 2017. If you choose this you must Register first to access the online booking link. Or you can call me directly to set up an appointment.
Thank you and hang in there!