Mar 26 2020

Physical Therapy Telehealth Programs During COVID-19 Outbreak

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our hearts go out to all those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in our society. Our team of personal injury and auto injury attorneys is available via phone, video conferencing or email to assist you with any legal questions or needs you may have, and we remain committed to serving our clients during this difficult period.

One group of our clients who might be particularly concerned during this period is those who have recently been in a car accident or any other type of traumatic injury event and require physical therapy as part of their treatment. Social distancing practices have made concepts like physical therapy much more difficult given the general need for in-person services.

However, numerous regulatory bodies, from the US government to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), have taken major strides toward relaxing regulatory restrictions and allowing for telehealth services – or services carried out over the phone, for those unfamiliar – to fill much of this void. Today’s important blog will go over some of the flexibility areas here that relate to physical therapy, including how you can still receive the beneficial services you need during this difficult time via phone and online methods.

physical therapy telehealth COVID-19

CMS Flexibility Areas

For starters, CMS and other agencies have implemented numerous relaxations of existing health standards to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak. One of the primary such actions here, at least as it pertains to physical therapy and telehealth, is the temporary waiving of Medicare and Medicaid requirements for that out-of-state providers hold licenses in the state where they’re providing services. This allows those who require physical therapy to have many more outlets available to them in terms of telehealth, as they can work with providers from other states if needed.

And while certain minor areas of physical therapy are not possible over the phone, most can be approximated fairly easily. Video-calling technology makes it easy for a therapist to view a patient’s range of motion or give them various stretches and exercises to perform, and checking on pain symptoms becomes a matter of individual reporting.

Physical Therapy and Telehealth

Now, it should be noted that the government actions did not specifically speak to expanding Medicare coverage to include telehealth services for physical therapy. But many individuals have reported varying circumstances here, and payment processes for commercial insurers will vary.

For this reason, we highly recommend contacting your insurer, whether Medicare or another, in advance of procuring such services. Doctors and therapists will also have gone through this process, which involves various site regulations and other factors.

Ethical Areas

Know that if you choose to participate in these forms of telehealth for physical therapy or any other health area, all the same ethical codes and practices are in place as would have been previously. All healthcare professionals must account for biological, social, psychological and cultural needs of the patient while working to improve their health. In addition, HIPAA requirements are not altered and must be met in the same ways, meaning you will have no privacy or related concerns in this realm.

If you’ve recently been injured and require physical therapy, we highly recommend utilizing these and other resources available to you – including contacting physical therapists in your area to find out which programs are available. To learn more about this or any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.