September 21, 2020

Effectiveness of Virtual Physical Therapy in Orthopedics

More than six months into the pandemic, and with most regions continuing with elective surgeries, the safety and availability of in-person treatment options is top of mind. Virtual physical therapy is an effective and validated option to connect patients with providers in order to improve patient outcomes, improve patient compliance to physical therapy, and increase patient and provider satisfaction. While many health systems embraced digital technologies long before COVID-19, it’s still important to continue to study the efficacy of virtual recovery solutions. Force recently analyzed over 21,000 patient outcomes from 48 different procedures and treatments from 23 separate academic hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and community health systems from April 2018 through June 2020. Patients were included that completed our discharge questionnaire, indicating physical therapy services utilized.

All patients included in the study had access to the Force Therapeutics platform. Only 1% of patients did not engage with any Virtual PT, which provides great insight into patient willingness and adoption to technology. Results of the study found that virtual physical therapy yielded positive results across pain scores, satisfaction, and readmission rates. One interesting finding was that as engagement with virtual physical therapy increased, so did satisfaction with the platform. Additionally, patients in the Virtual PT group had the lowest pain at both 6 weeks and 12 weeks postoperatively or into the program for nonoperative care. Another important finding was that Virtual PT had the lowest emergency room, urgent care, and readmission rates.

Virtual physical therapy can drastically improve and enhance recovery in the orthopedic population. When given the option, the majority of patients are open to engaging with a program that will assist in enhancing their recovery. For clinicians, virtual physical therapy allows them to extend their reach into the patient’s home to assist in optimizing patient outcomes and have a far deeper insight into their patients to assist in driving evidence-based practice in their practice.

Read the full study here.