Physiotherapists and patients report positive experiences overall with telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic: a mixed-methods study

Kim L. Bennell, Belinda J. Lawford, Ben Metcalf, David Mackenzie, Trevor Russell, Maayken van den Berg, Karen Finnin, Shelley Crowther, Jenny Aiken, Jenine Fleming, Rana S. Hinman

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    Abstract

    Question: What were the experiences of physiotherapists and patients who consulted via videoconference during the COVID-19 pandemic and how was it implemented? Design: Mixed methods study with cross-sectional national online surveys and qualitative analysis of free-text responses. Participants: A total of 207 physiotherapists in private practice or community settings and 401 patients aged ≥ 18 years who consulted (individual and/or group) via videoconference from April to November 2020. Methods: Separate customised online surveys were developed for physiotherapists and patients. Data were collected regarding the implementation of videoconferencing (cost, software used) and experience with videoconferencing (perceived effectiveness, safety, ease of use and comfort communicating, each scored on a 4-point ordinal scale). Qualitative content analysis was performed of physiotherapists’ free-text responses about perceived facilitators, barriers and safety issues. Results: Physiotherapists gave moderate-to-high ratings for the effectiveness of and their satisfaction with videoconferencing. Most intended to continue to offer individual consultations (81%) and group classes (60%) via videoconferencing beyond the pandemic. For individual consultations and group classes, respectively, most patients had moderately or extremely positive perceptions about ease of technology use (94%, 91%), comfort communicating (96%, 86%), satisfaction with management (92%, 93%), satisfaction with privacy/security (98%, 95%), safety (99% both) and effectiveness (83%, 89%). Compared with 68% for group classes, 47% of patients indicated they were moderately or extremely likely to choose videoconferencing for individual consultations in the future. Technology was predominant as both a facilitator and barrier. Falls risk was the main safety factor. Conclusion: Patients and physiotherapists had overall positive experiences using videoconferencing for individual consultations and group classes. The results suggest that videoconferencing is a viable option for the delivery of physiotherapy care in the future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)201-209
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Physiotherapy
    Volume67
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

    Keywords

    • COVID-19
    • Experiences
    • Patient
    • Physical therapy
    • Telehealth
    • Video

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