We know it sounds crazy, so let us explain…
Everyone is self-isolating, practicing social (physical) distancing and this is due to continue for the foreseeable future. This does not mean that all of your problems go away. In fact, it is more likely that you will be feeling tense and stressed – both of which will aggravate any existing complaints you have and home working is not great for everyone so back pain along with neck and shoulder pain are expected to increase. Which is why we are now offering Virtual Appointments to our patients.
How does an Osteopath give a virtual appointment?
It’s quite simple. We use specialist software called PhysiApp, so that we can see each other face to face, discuss your symptoms, carry out any movement tests we think would be beneficial and then we can share our screen with you and take you through videos of self-massage, stretches and exercises.
Before your appointment, you will receive an email from us with details of how to join the appointment. Follow the instructions and try to make sure that your laptop, tablet or smartphone is set up and ready to go a few minutes before our start time.
We can then talk and discuss your symptoms like we usually would, and use our skills to diagnose and prescribe you some exercises or changes to your daily routine that we think will help.
But you can’t actually treat us, can you?
It’s true, we can’t physically treat you as we would in a traditional appointment, but we can collect information from you that allows us to assess you in very much the same way.
During a ‘traditional’ appointment we will spend an amount of time discussing your symptoms. This is when we as osteopaths are doing the detective work to figure out what may be causing your pain or discomfort and deciding in our heads the best way to treat you.
A virtual appointment is very much the same in this respect. We can still talk and discuss your symptoms like we usually would, and then we use our skills and clinical reasoning to diagnose what may be causing them.
The main difference comes in the next part of the session. Instead of us examining you on the treatment table, you will be asked to do some movements, stretches and ‘tests’. This is so that we can further see what may be causing your discomfort and decide on the best plan for getting you better.
The ‘treatment’ part of the session will involve us sharing our screen with you and taking you through some exercises or self-massage videos which we will then be sent to you as a program for you to follow. Each time you complete the exercises you log this on your computer or mobile using a simple App so pain levels and other indicators can be tracked. Your osteopath monitors these daily and makes sure your recovery is going as planned, having communication with you in between Virtual appointments to solve any issues or concerns you might have, all within the PhysiApp system we use. It really is a brilliant system. Your treatment plan may also involve a trip to our clinic in the future if we feel you would benefit but this is often not needed for most people’s issues.
Does it actually work?
Yes! If you have been to Bannerdale before, you will know how passionate we are about getting you back to your best as soon as possible, we have never tried to make patients book appointments we don’t feel they need and this is no different.
There is a lot of research out there proving that we can be just as effective at diagnosing your condition virtually as if you were in the room with us. The main difference here is that the patients are asked to help themselves by doing the exercises and making the changes we prescribe. If you are willing to take control and get on board then there is no reason the outcomes would be anything other than excellent.
This may sound shocking coming from an osteopath, but you don’t need our ‘magic hands’ to get better, with the right system in place you can absolutely do it on your own. It does involve more work on your part, and ours, as we need to monitor your progress every day rather than just at each appointment. The monitoring is easy to do for you, usually just clicking on a pain scale after doing completing your program. You will soon be able to notice the changes yourself and have more control over your recovery.
If you are keen on finding out more, there is lots of info here:
What are the benefits of having a virtual appointment?
The main benefit of a virtual appointment, and the main reason we have decided to do this now, is that you can have an appointment from anywhere. So if you need to stay at home you can still have access to the care you need.
There are however many other reasons, including:
- Continuity of care – Many of you will have already started treatment with us. It seems foolish to shelve any good work we may have already done and this is a way to keep going with any progress we have made.
- Time – you can get help NOW rather than waiting.
- Location – your appointment can take place wherever you are. No need to come in and see us.
- Follow-ups – you will receive as much or little input from us between Virtual appointments as you need. You will have a reply to any questions within 24 hours, directly from the osteopath helping you who knows exactly what your recovery program looks like.
- Costs – the price of a virtual appointment is much lower than a regular appointment (50%) and currently we’re not charging for any of the communication and management we do in between appointments.
Why are we offering virtual appointments?
We have decided to offer virtual appointments now because despite officially being allowed to be open, osteopaths are classed as medical and help take the burden off the NHS. We feel virtual appointments are the safest way to do this for nearly everyone. We know most people would rather stay at home and we don’t know who might be carrying the virus and unknowingly passing it on. Virtual appointments offer the best service available considering our duty of care. You get the care you need with the same osteopath as before and achieve the same outcomes, just slightly differently.
In the future, we hope to continue offering virtual appointments to patients who don’t have the time to come into the practice either due to work or family commitments, patients who have moved to a different area or even those who are working away. Virtual appointments can continue to be a vital part of your treatment even after the quarantine period is over and life gets back to normal.
Who is it suitable for?
We are recommending virtual appointments for all nearly all patients, particularly those that are mid-way through a course of treatment with us but are no longer able to physically visit us. Continuity of care and proper follow-ups are important – this is a great way to ensure you get this. If unsure of your suitability just get in touch and we can discuss.
Virtual Appointments can also be very effective for new patients. At Bannerdale Osteopaths, treat and manage a wide range of conditions including back and neck pain, occupational and repetitive strain injuries and issues relating to pregnant and nursing mothers.
We realise this may be a new concept, so if you have any questions at all please feel free to get in touch and we will do our best to help you.
What will happen at my first appointment?
During your first appointment, we will discuss the symptoms you are experiencing and ask you questions about your general health, lifestyle and medical history, talk you through an in-depth osteopathic examination and outline the treatment that we think is most appropriate for you. This will initially be in the form of self-care and home exercises and may in the future involve visits to our clinic.
How long will my appointment last?
Your first appointment will be slightly longer than any subsequent appointments and will last for about 45 minutes. Any subsequent appointments will be 30 minutes.
Do I need to have any information prepared?
It would be really useful if you could have a list of any medications you are currently taking alongside any relevant x-rays, scans or medical reports.
What should I wear?
In order to diagnose you properly, we will have to see how the affected area moves. Wearing loose-fitting clothes is probably best for this, although some patients choose to wear shorts and a vest for their appointment – whatever works best for you.