Treatment programs are common in several specialties – but, for the sake of this blog post’s length, let’s focus on substance abuse and physical therapy treatment programs.
In cases with abundant social support or lower funds, an outpatient treatment program may be the best fit for an individual suffering with substance abuse. Some of these cases begin with enthusiasm at program start. But, the enthusiasm very often dwindles when individuals and their families/friends realize the real effort it takes to stay committed. With outpatient programs, the provider may have little control over a patient’s progress.
This is where telemedicine can intervene and make all the difference – in folks who want to get better, of course; telemedicine is a great tool, not a miraculous intervention platform. It allows the provider to set recurring face-to-face appointments with a patient. In the case of substance abuse, we think a phone call just won’t cut it. With telemedicine sessions, the provider can see the patient’s real advancement with the ability to actually see mannerisms, speech patterns and body language. These are factors that the patient can easily hide with an impersonal phone call. Recurring online visits may make the patient realize the support system is strong, as well as create a feeling of obligation to commit to treatment.
Let’s switch gears to physical therapy. Physical therapy programs can be tedious, and patients may be required to follow specific exercise instructions at home. So, are they really doing it? Oftentimes, patients will cut back on their exercise routines once they begin to feel better. It’s essential to follow through with the entire program for the best possible outcome.
With telemedicine, the physical therapy provider may, once again, schedule recurring appointments for patients. During these appointments, the patient can show the provider how he or she is performing the exercises for form review. Not only will this help with carrying out the exercises correctly, but it may – as mentioned previously – make the patient feel obligated to continue. No one wants to let down their doctor!
Telemedicine really becomes what you choose to make of it. The platform is the same, but its uses are limitless. Can you think of other unique ways to utilize telemedicine for patient program commitment?