Physiotherapists are worried that Australia’s older people are at risk of health problems and complications if they don’t keep moving while confined to their homes or rooms during the coronavirus outbreak.
Tristan White, head of The Physio Co, one of Australia’s largest physiotherapy service providers that specialises in over-65s, says the elderly need to take steps to ensure they remain as active as possible during these challenging times.
“Many Australian seniors get regular treatment from physiotherapists, and this often includes gentle movement and exercise programs. Unfortunately due to current circumstances, this can’t be done face to face,” he says.
According to White, The Physio Co has been fielding calls from sons and daughters concerned that their elderly parents won’t be able to access physio treatment for a period of weeks, and that their health might potentially suffer from an increased lack of movement.
White says the answer lies in digital health services, or telehealth as the practice is sometimes known. This is when medical and allied health practitioners use virtual technology to deliver healthcare to patients.
“We are growing our online physio service to meet what we see as increased demand for virtual consultations. It’s a tested and proven method of delivering physio services. We’ve been conducting online consultations for some time as there is a need for such a service among Australia’s elderly, but of course, little did anyone know it would suddenly become such a much-needed service in light of COVID-19.”
Karen Finnin is an expert in digital practice.
She says telehealth technologies have come a long way in recent times, and the practice of digital health consulting is growing rapidly, both in terms of adoption by healthcare providers and the public’s use of such services generally.
According to Finnin, allied healthcare providers will need to make the rapid transition to telehealth in order to provide continuation of their services to the public. But, she warns when it comes to telehealth, the onus is on providers to deliver the most professional and high quality experience they can.
“This is not the time to be experimenting with Facetime or Skype,” she says. “Healthcare providers should be using professional telehealth video consultation software. These platforms are more robust and secure than the popular consumer video conferencing apps.”