Covid-19: guide for rapid implementation of remote physiotherapy delivery

Practical advice for physiotherapists and support workers on how to implement remote physiotherapy delivery rapidly and efficiently.

Government guidance on provision of healthcare in the home countries and crown dependencies changes regularly. You should explore your local guidance in line with the CSP guidance on whether to see patients 'Face to face or not'. Use of remote tools to triage before any face-to-face contact is recommended, and virtual offers of ongoing assessment and treatments should be used where applicable.

Remote physiotherapy delivery encompasses all methods of providing physiotherapy where the patient is remote from the practitioner. Delivery methods include, but are not limited to, telephone, video, email, SMS, web-based platforms or apps. Setting up remote delivery options normally requires time, planning and incremental introduction [1].

However, in these extenuating circumstances the CSP endorses a more rapid approach to implementation to minimise risks of Covid-19 exposure for patients, the public and healthcare staff. Long-term implementation of these solutions should be evidence-based and regularly evaluated in line with clinical and governance requirements.

When the member and the patients are based in the UK, remote physiotherapy delivery is covered by CSP PLI (subject to policy terms and conditions). If the member or patient are permanently based outside the UK then there may be additional country-specfic legislation around digital healthcare that you must follow. More information on this can be found in the guide to insurance cover on our page about website, digital and print issues.

NHSX supports the use of off-the-shelf videoconferencing tools such as Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp as well as commercial products designed specifically for this purpose where there is no practical alternative [2]. Read more about information governance on the NHSX website and see the CSP FAQs for advice on digital tools [3].

Using professional judgement

Clinicians should use their professional judgement to make decisions about the most appropriate consultation method on an individual basis.

We strongly recommend that you read our page on 'Face-to-face or remote consultations: supporting you to make safe decisions about patient contact' [4].

Read the NHSX guidance on using off-the-shelf videoconferencing tools such as Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp as well as commercial products designed specifically for this purpose.

The University of Oxford has produced step-by-step guidance on delivering video consultation in general practice, and this may also be applicable to other settings.

NHS England has developed guidance on delivering remote consultations and other ways of remote working in secondary care.

Watch the Q Community's webinar Video consultation: how to set them up well, fast?

Physio First, the professional network for physiotherapists working in private practice, has developed guidance on how to connect with patients using virtual consultations.

References

  1. Greenhalgh T, Wherton J, Shaw S, et al. Video consultations for Covid-19. BMJ.2020;368:m998 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.m998
  2. NHSX. Information governance.
  3. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Digital tools to support service delivery.
  4. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Face-to-face or remote consultations: supporting you to make safe decisions about patient contact.

Have a look at some top tips from our members on using remote consultations:

Download the CSP guidance below on implementing remote physiotherapy delivery