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Introducing virtual physiotherapy:

The online rehab solution for the pandemic and beyond

Posted by Medavie Blue Cross on November 26, 2020

There’s a mounting body of evidence to show that COVID-19 is dramatically changing how Canadians access and receive healthcare.

Data collected by Canada Health Infoway found that 60 per cent of healthcare visits are now taking place virtually, compared to only 20 per cent prior to the pandemic.

Not only is COVID-19 fast tracking the adoption of virtual care in Canada, it’s opening our minds to other healthcare possibilities.

As we become more comfortable logging onto digital health platforms to consult a doctor, get treatment, fill a prescription or receive counselling, we may ask ourselves how we can connect with other health practitioners from the comfort and privacy of our homes.

Those possibilities now include virtual physiotherapy.

Providing continuity of care

When the pandemic shuttered their clinics, some physiotherapists turned to the web to treat their patients, recognizing the importance of maintaining that continuity of care. They knew that the longer their patients’ treatment was delayed, the more difficult it would be for them to return to full mobility.

The result is an emerging digital healthcare solution that is gaining traction among practitioners and patients alike.

Like their in-person counterparts, virtual physiotherapists deliver face-to-face care safely and effectively, focusing on prevention and rehabilitation for problems caused by injury, illness or disability. They’re just not in the same room as their patient.

Erasing a misconception

Virtual physiotherapy erases a long-held misconception that this is a hands-on-only practice. Not so. Talking to the patient to learn about their medical history and pain symptoms, assessing and diagnosing their condition, prescribing therapeutic exercises, observing and assessing their movement, answering questions and giving advice, are all important parts of the treatment, and can be done hands off.

Virtual physiotherapy also demonstrates that treatment does not have to take place in a brick-and-mortar setting. It’s cost effective, safe and gives more patients greater access to immediate care.

Only a small percentage of physical therapy patients need to go to a clinic for imaging or manual therapy before treatment begins. For most, treatment can start right away.

Offering care anywhere

As long as the patient has a computer, tablet or smartphone with a camera, and an email, they can receive care whenever they need it – and wherever they are.

In essence, virtual physiotherapy helps break down barriers to rehabilitation and smooths the path to recovery and return to health.

Ultimately, this could lead to improved delivery of care – and better health outcomes – for Canadians living in rural and remote communities, as well as those in self isolation.

It was with these goals in mind that Medavie Blue Cross added virtual physiotherapy to Connected Care, our digital health platform. Connected Care houses a suite of technology-enabled health solutions, to provide plan members with easier access to expert healthcare.

Since its launch a little over a year ago, thousands of members have explored and accessed our Online Doctors, Personalized Medicine and Digital Therapy options, as interest in and usage of Connected Care continues grow.

Joining the growing family

In early November, Virtual Physio became the newest member of the Connected Care family. We partnered with Phzio, a leading provider of online physiotherapy, to provide plans and members with special pricing for initial assessments and subsequent treatments:

Phzio connects members to a broad, national, bilingual network of physiotherapists for easy, convenient assessment, and customized treatment.

Phzio's platform offers a fully digital experience that allows members to follow the therapeutic exercise program prescribed by their physiotherapist, while still having live one-on-one access to their skilled and knowledgeable care.

The physiotherapist monitors the patient as they do their exercises, provides real-time feedback, answers questions, and performs live movement testing.

Empowering the patient

In doing so, the physiotherapist ensures the patient is compliant and consistent with their treatment plan, while giving the patient some control over their own rehabilitation (which can accelerate recovery).

In addition to the services described above, Phzio’s platform includes tools, communication options, and resources not typically available from in-person physiotherapists, which together enhance the member experience.

Covering the cost

Virtual Physio is approved for all physiotherapy providers (since the spring of 2020) and is covered by most benefit plans as an extended health benefit.

Want to learn more about Virtual Physio?

Contact your Medavie Blue Cross representative to discuss Virtual Physiotherapy, Connected Care and our digital healthcare offerings.