Seize telecare opportunities, Scots physios urged

Physiotherapists in Scotland are being encouraged to use the extension of the government’s telecare programme to get involved in delivering remote treatment.

Last month the Scottish government announced it would fund its telecare development programme for another two years. The strategy began in 2006 and is now being used in many social care settings, for example to help older people live independently at home, while giving them the security of alarms. Similar programmes are running elsewhere in the UK.  However, Margaret Hastings, chair of the CSP information management and technology group and the government’s e-health lead for the Clyde division, told Frontline that physios had ‘not really engaged’ with the programme so far. She said this was partly because many of the initiatives were taking place in community settings:  ‘Physios are not naturally exposed to using telecare and we probably haven’t moved into this model of patient self-management yet’. However, she said there needed to be a cultural shift, whereby physios identified and seized the opportunity to use the technology in their work, for example to monitor remotely how patients were following exercise programmes.  She pointed to an example given at last year’s World Physiotherapy Congress, where a physiotherapist in Canada was using video to monitor patients hundreds of miles away. ‘As a profession we still think everything has to be hands-on and we don’t value our own time that is taken up by travelling to patients,’ she said. She urged physios to approach service managers with ideas for telecare or telehealth programmes, as well as to share information with CSP members on current projects. 

Louise Hunt

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