Our new, abnormal norm or a giant step forward?
Sometimes when the world stops it allows us to take a step back, reflect and make some changes. Online consultations funded by medicare and private health insurance have opened the doors to those families that struggled to come into the clinic due to distance, time or juggling the demands of family life. Families may ask themselves, are they getting a quality service? I recently attended a webinar held by GP’s from the UK and Australia and the general consensus was that although there are some limitations, overall safety incidents dropped and face to face vs telehealth showed similar clinical outcomes. But what about a virtual online consultation with children? Over the past month I have really enjoyed the transition of nearly 90% of my caseload to online consultations, although face to face consultations are still available.
Our initial appointments with younger children have always been about drawing from parents and children what are the reasons for coming to see me and their goals they want to achieve from our time together. It can be hard for parents to discuss their child’s struggles openly while we are all sitting in the same room however in an online consultation we are able to split the time to speak privately without the need for your son or daughter to sit there becoming restless or in the waiting room for you to speak openly. Speaking of waiting rooms and clinical spaces, although we try to make our environments as inviting and friendly as possible, sometimes shy and worried children cling onto mum or dad initially and may take some winning over. I spend much of our first appointments rapport building and online consultations have been great for that first interaction with children to build a relationship, we have played a few games, been shown their skills with a basketball or soccer ball, watched children walk upstairs to get favourite toys, all of which is giving us valuable clinical insight to how your child moves and often provides much more clinical information than a hands on assessments in the clinic. It has also meant that when children have then come into the clinic they have bounced into the room with little reservation often showing me that new skill or task I left them for homework.
For those injured teenage athletes that need a home exercise program and return to sport plan progressed, short online “check in” consultations have been a great way to move rehab along while trying to juggle homework and out of school activities without the need to squeeze in a trip to the clinic. This has increased adherence and interest to the plan while getting these young athletes back to sport as quickly as possible.
But what do you need to do from your end? In my opinion it’s great to have a brief discussion or chat with your clinician prior via phone or online. This can help with choice of device to use, room setup, clothing options, any toys or sporting equipment needed.
If your son or daughter was due for an orthotic review, home exercise program progression or just wanted to touch base, I will be offering a brief catch up appointment via telehealth at no cost. For those families that would travel a few hours for our appointments, or those families that it was difficult to attend due to family circumstances telehealth could be our new norm. I encourage us all to embrace the positives that may come out of this COVID-19 experience while we hope that our lives can settle back into some normality soon.