Exploring the delivery of remote physiotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic: UK wide service evaluation

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: During the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, physiotherapists changed rapidly to working remotely. Research demonstrates the benefits of remote physiotherapy, but little is known about its implementation in practice.

PURPOSE: Explore the take-up and delivery of remote physiotherapy during the pandemic in the United Kingdom.

METHODS: Sequential mixed methods evaluation with physiotherapists leading remote physiotherapy delivery. Two-stage approach included online survey (2020) and semi-structured interviews with documentary/data analysis (2021).

RESULTS: There were 1620 physiotherapists who completed the survey. The most used devices were telephone (n = 942,71.0%) and the AttendAnywhere platform (n = 511, 38.5%). Remote consultations were frequently used for initial assessment (n = 1105, 83%), screening/triage (n = 882, 67%), or to review, monitor, and progress treatment (n = 982-1004, 74%-76%). Qualitative survey responses reflected respondents' response to COVID-19 and delivery of remote physiotherapy. Twelve remote physiotherapy leads were then purposively sampled across clinical areas. Three main themes emerged from interviews: response to Covid-19, delivery of remote physiotherapy, and future of remote physiotherapy.

CONCLUSION: Remote physiotherapy was safe, feasible, and acceptable for those who accessed it. There were patients for which it was deemed unsuitable across clinical areas. In practice, it should be combined with in-person consultation based on patients' needs/preferences. Further research should explore post-pandemic maintenance of remote delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Aug 2023

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