Telehealth is a new and growing field within the healthcare industry. Telehealth can be defined as any technological means to communicate with patients and includes emails, phone calls and video conferencing (such as Skype). With advancements in technology such as wireless internet and smartphones, it means that healthcare can quite literally be in the palm of our hands. As Exercise Physiology is purely ‘hands-off’ treatment, it is the perfect industry to implement telehealth.
Whilst telehealth shouldn’t replace traditional practice, it would be great to see it more readily used as a complementary treatment in certain instances. People that live or work in rural and regional areas have very limited access to certain allied health providers. A lot of larger regional towns still have limited access to Exercise Physiologists. Telehealth can also be effective for older people that may have trouble leaving the house, people that have disabilities or those with certain mental health conditions. Telehealth will allow these people to have treatment when they otherwise wouldn’t.
It has been great to see the promising research indicating that telehealth treatment of musculoskeletal disorders has shown to be as effective and comparable to standard practice treatment. Telehealth interventions were also found to be effective in increasing physical activity in sedentary populations that had been referred for exercise by their GP. With this promising preliminary research, it is hopeful that stakeholders in the healthcare sphere become more willing to approve telehealth treatment for exercise physiology.
Absolute Balance actively uses aspects of telehealth to ensure continued engagement and self-management through their prescribed exercise program. This includes access to an app through their smartphone as well as regular phone consultations to track and monitor progress. Absolute Balance is looking to further expand within the area of telehealth to treat people with exercise.
Aaron McErlaine (BSc – ExHealth, BSc – ExRehab, Dip WHS, Cert IV TAE)
Senior Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)
Ewald, B., Stacey, F., Johnson, N., Plotnikoff, R., Holliday, E., Brown, W. and James, E. (2017). Physical activity coaching by Australian Exercise Physiologists is cost effective for patients referred from general practice. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 42(1), pp.12-15.
Cottrell, M., Galea, O., O’Leary, S., Hill, A., & Russell, T. (2016). Real-time telerehabilitation for the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions is effective and comparable to standard practice: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Rehabilitation, 31(5), 625-638. doi: 10.1177/0269215516645148