Telehealth in Physical Therapy: Overview
ScienceSoft employs 17-year experience in healthcare IT to provide healthcare organizations with consulting on and offer development of telemedicine solutions.
The Essence of Telehealth for Physical Therapy
Telehealth technology helps physical therapists foster patients’ rehabilitation after injuries and surgeries, manage chronic conditions (e.g., arthritis), provide care for professional athletes remotely. Physical therapy telemedicine is effective in orthopedic, geriatric, neurological care.
The main elements of the solution include:
App for physical therapists
to assign physical therapy programs, manage treatment, monitor therapy progress, patients’ health parameters, etc
App for patients
to view and follow physical therapy programs, record therapy sessions, contact a therapist for help and guidance, etc.
Cloud data storage and processing module
for patients’ data (e.g., demographic information, therapy progress log, health parameters), physical therapists’ data (e.g., contact information, years of experience, proprietary training programs, physical therapy programs and exercises, recordings of therapy sessions, etc.
Video streaming server
enabling video communication between patients and physical therapists in real time.
Admin web panel
to allow hospital administrators, supervisors, or private practice therapists (when SaaS model is used) to view a list of physical therapists and patients, grant the app access to patients and physiotherapists, add new physical therapy programs, etc.
At ScienceSoft, we create a unique set of physiotherapy telehealth app features for each customer to cater to their specific business needs. Here is the list of core features we implement that encompasses most of physical therapy software use cases.
Physical therapy program setup (for therapists)
- Composing a physical therapy program.
- Recording video instructions for exercises or adding text descriptions to exercises.
- View and selection of therapy programs available for a patient’s condition.
- Adaptation of a therapy program to a patient’s needs (e.g., adding a new exercise, changing a number of sets).
- Enabling text-to-speech functionality for textual exercise instructions (when setting up a program for visually impaired patients).
- VR-based physical therapy sessions.
Conducting a physiotherapy session (for therapists)
- Templates for pre-therapy questionnaires for patients (indicating symptoms and an overall health state).
- Physical therapy modes: guided sessions with real-time monitoring by a therapist (optimal for therapy beginners) or pre-recorded therapy sessions.
- Recording of conducted physical therapy sessions.
Therapy adherence monitoring and analytics
- Personal KPI targets for each patient created by a therapist.
- Alerts for a therapist and a patient if the patient’s vitals exceed the norm.
- Notifications for a therapist if a patient doesn’t meet set KPIs or misses a remote physical therapy session.
- Treatment adjustment suggestions for therapists (e.g., reduce the number of cardio exercises due to a high heart rate).
- Dashboards with patients’ target and achieved therapy results, analyzed progress, therapy adherence, and vitals.
Self-monitoring (for patients)
- Patients’ exercise log.
- Patients’ health parameters log (e.g., weight, body temperature, pulse, blood pressure).
- Automated vitals collection and tracking via connected devices.
- Real-time suggestions for exercise adjustments based on tracked vitals.
- Automated patient surveys after therapy sessions.
- E-visits scheduling.
- Real-time audio and video calls (e.g., for physical therapy sessions, follow-up visits).
- Instant text messaging and message history.
- Online appointments history and recordings.
Security and compliance
- Access and identity management.
- Multi-factor authentication.
- Data encryption (e.g., for PHI, messaging, and calls).
- HIPAA and HITECH regulations compliance.
To save time on manual patient data entry and get an overall picture of patient health while planning and conducting remote physical therapy sessions, ScienceSoft suggests integrating the telehealth PT application with:
EHR or EMR system
to ease access to the patient health information (e.g., diagnoses, chronic conditions) for physical therapists and log e-visits in EHR for the streamlined gathering of billing information.
Connected medical devices
to collect and analyze patients’ health parameters (e.g., blood pressure, pulse, SpO2) in real time, adjust the physiotherapy, track treatment results and effectiveness.
Halina Batsishcha, MD, Healthcare IT Consultant at ScienceSoft, gives a tip on the integration of physical therapy software:
"We recommend choosing connectivity technology (e.g., Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth) for smart medical devices integration depending on the device properties, manufacturers, security concerns, requirements of your healthcare organization."
Before the pandemic, only 2% of physical therapists provided care via telehealth, states the research of the American Physical Therapy Association. By July 2020, 47% of physical therapists started using video consultations in their practice.
To ensure telehealth appointments bring benefits to the patients, ScienceSoft's experts recommend to consider the following factors:
Easy in-app therapy programs search, editing, and adding
to allow physical therapists to set up an effective patient therapy program fast.
Gamification of physical therapy
to motivate patients (e.g., points for completing a therapy session or reaching predefined therapy milestones, in-app badges for progress).
Clear UI and intuitive UX
to help patients navigate through remote physiotherapy sessions and the telehealth application’s features, e.g., with pop-up text or voiced recommendations (especially relevant for geriatric care).
Examples of Telemedicine for Physical Therapy
- Infinity Rehab of Wilsonville, Oregon, implemented a real-time synchronous telehealth platform for physical therapy delivery. As a result, clinical outcomes of patients supervised via telehealth were the same/better than the results of patients seen in person.
- Exchange Physical Therapy Group, a practice with three clinic locations in New Jersey, implemented telehealth for physical therapy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 10% of their patients used telehealth to stay active and continue rehabilitation.
ScienceSoft suggests opting for a custom telemedicine physiotherapy app if you want to provide more effective care using:
- Medical devices or sensors connected to the telehealth app for physiotherapy. The sensors can be put on an injured joint or a limb to track the activity and range of movement, provide data for rehabilitation insights and help monitor complications (e.g., muscular atrophy). Connected medical devices (e.g., oximeters, heart rate monitors) check a patient’s vitals in real time.
- Unique physical therapy programs developed by your therapists or research center (their forms vary from pre-recorded and animated videos to AI-powered interactive training and VR-based physiotherapy).
- AI-driven analytics to facilitate physiotherapy patients’ diagnosing or progress assessment.
Telehealth App for Physical Therapy: Example by ScienceSoft
A US-based software product company.
A telehealth solution for home-based musculoskeletal physical therapy.
The solution consists of a web app for doctors, therapists and administrators and a cross-platform mobile application for patients.
- Scheduling and conducting online video therapy sessions.
- Logging therapy progress.
- In-app messaging between doctors and patients, and more.
AI-driven assessment of therapy progress based on data from integrated range-of-motion sensors for knee joints monitoring.
Benefits of Telehealth PT
Improved care availability
due to the remote care delivery model.
to physical therapy treatment due to convenient therapy delivery at patients’ homes.
Better patient outcomes
due to easy control of treatment efficiency and PT plan personalization.
Holding ISO 13485 certification, ScienceSoft knows how to create an efficient telemedicine app for physiotherapy according to the requirements of the FDA and the Council of the European Union.
Telehealth PT software consulting
- Eliciting requirements for physical therapy telehealth software and elaborating on its features.
- Designing a scalable architecture and choosing an optimal technology stack.
- Delivering an implementation roadmap for your telehealth software for PT.
- Planning integrations with required software and hardware (e.g., EHR, connected medical devices).
- Evaluating potential development risks and providing a risk mitigation plan.
Telehealth PT software development
- Eliciting requirements for physical therapy telehealth software and planning its features.
- Defining an app architecture and tech stack.
- Designing the application’s UX and UI.
- Developing and testing the telehealth app for physical therapy.
- Integrating the app with needed software (e.g., EHR) and hardware (e.g., sensors).
- Supporting the application and introducing new features for its smooth evolution.
ScienceSoft's Customers Say
We engaged ScienceSoft to build an Android telehealth app that complements our web-based platform for our patients. They advised and successfully lead the way from end to end through the technical challenges and considerations with development of the app. We have also engaged them to introduce a few enhancements to the app and would certainly consider ScienceSoft as a technology partner in further software development initiatives.
Justin Turner, CTO, Chiron Health
ScienceSoft is an international IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, Texas, US. For 17 years, ScienceSoft has been rendering expert consulting and development services for telemedicine applications and helped healthcare organizations provide quality remote physical therapy to improve patient care and quicken rehabilitation.