It is a whole new world and we are all trying to navigate the day to day changes that are impacting all aspect of our lives. With Governor Carney now implementing a “stay at home” order and only “essential” businesses to remain open, the impact on patients needing care is concerning. Although physical therapy practices are considered “essential” businesses, some patients are opting not to visit clinics. Physical therapists should determine, on a case-by-case basis, if the care being provided warrants an in-person encounter and if such an encounter can be done in an environment that minimizes the potential risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Consideration should be given to delay in-person encounters in such cases that a delay won’t result in an adverse outcome. The underlying premise is to “do no harm.” You and the patient must determine if the risk of providing care outweighs the risks of not providing care at this time.
There has been a lot of discussion about the use of telehealth – can we use it, what are the requirements for implementation, and will payers cover it? DPTA will continue to provide updates on this information as we receive it. In addition, we are looking to create a special committee on telehealth as we feel this topic is important now and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. An announcement will be made soon with more information including how to express interest in being on this committee.
I applaud my colleagues, volunteer leaders of DPTA, who have been reaching out to insurers, the Governor’s office and with PT practices to make sure we are doing all that we can do for our patients during this time. George Edelman, our Payment Chair, has been very proactive reaching out to the major payers in our state. Check out George’s updates on Medicare, Highmark BCBS Delaware and Aetna in today’s e-newsletter.
We want to make sure resources and updated information are communicated to all PTs/PTAs in Delaware. We are working with the state board to help with that.
Some suggestions to stay informed:
- APTA continues to be a great resource for regularly updated information, especially at the national level. Please bookmark and access regularly APTA’s Coronavirus page.
- DPTA will increase the frequency of e-newsletters to make sure you are receiving timely information. Keep an eye out for these in your email box.
- Follow guidance from federal, local, and state agencies that may influence how you handle any of the above suggestions. The CDC has provided a resource for getting your practice ready.
- Want to learn more about telehealth – attend APTA’s free webinar: Implementing Telehealth in Your Practice STAT: Practical Guidance from Experienced Telehealth PTs March 26 (2:00 pm, ET) – Live Webinar
As health professionals, it is our duty to provide the care that is required by our patients. The immediate future may place financial hardships on us, but that must remain as a secondary concern to the healthcare needs of our patients. Whenever possible, provide the care that is needed regardless of how you will be paid. When we arise from this, we will be a stronger community as a result of the caring we have shown to others.
I wish you all the best in dealing with this national emergency. It is stressful. Do not neglect yourself and be sure to practice what we all are preaching to our patients: keep moving, eat well, and stay socially connected while physically distanced.
Stacie Larkin PT, DPT, MEd