Virtual Physical Therapy: The Rise of Telerehabilitation
Healthcare experts predict that virtual physical therapy, or Telerehabilitation, of musculoskeletal conditions will become increasingly popular and will likely comprise a significant portion of telehealth services delivered in the future.
How Virtual Physical Therapy Can Help Reduce Costs for Employers
According to the 2022 Castlight Workforce Health Index, treatment and surgeries for musculoskeletal conditions account for over 15% of medical expenses companies cover yearly. However, only 11% of companies offer some form of treatment specifically for musculoskeletal disorders, which often leads to employees putting off seeking care and racking up higher costs down the road when their condition worsens.
While in-person visits should still be an option for employees, virtual physical therapy provides a convenient and cost-effective alternative to help more people get the care they need. Sessions may be available on weekends or after work hours, when most in-person therapy facilities are closed.
What Companies Should Consider
When companies are considering virtual physical therapy, they should consider various factors. For example, is a co-pay necessary, and how much would it be? Insurance companies frequently classify physical therapists as specialists, leading to more expensive visits.
Another key question is how easy is virtual physical therapy to access? Employees may be less likely to use it if it’s not readily available. It’s also important to determine how easily records can be integrated with those from other healthcare providers. Many patients do not attend all of their appointments and many give up after just a few sessions. At-home or virtual care allows for easier rescheduling of missed appointments.
Employers also should consider what devices will be used to deliver the therapy and if any financial incentives will be offered to engage employees.
The trend toward using virtual physical therapy is likely to continue to grow as more companies become aware of how debilitating musculoskeletal conditions can be and the high costs associated with its treatment. While it gets employees the help they need it also can avoid costly surgeries and other medical procedures.
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