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Our Experts' Blog

Remote Services: Benefits to referrers

by Rachel Oliver

Rachel is an OT Practice Occupational Therapist specialising in Hand Therapy, who has been delivering care remotely to her clients since lockdown began. Here, Rachel shares her experiences and highlights specifically the benefits our referrers are seeing from remote intervention.

Rachel OliverCompleting virtual assessments and/or treatment sessions has brought unexpected benefits for clients, myself as a therapist and for the commissioners and referrers for OT provision.

My current caseload is predominantly made up of the tech savvy generation; they are well informed and proficient in the use of smart phone and computer technologies. Virtual communication methods are something they are very familiar with. Opening up this communication pathway has led to client interactions increasing not only during but also in between treatment sessions. It has improved accessibility of therapy to clients who would not normally respond well to traditional approaches. I feel clients are more open and forthcoming in asking questions or raising issues, which has helped me as their therapist, ensure their needs are addressed and done so in a timely fashion.

_Benefit to referrer: I can deliver an accurate and comprehensive assessment report to them in a shorter time frame than I may have been able to achieve had I been doing the assessment face to face. _

The move into virtual ways of working has also prompted me to explore online services and resources which may be beneficial for clients; this has been enlightening. I have been able to search for or facilitate access to these resources for clients during virtual consultations. Previously this is something I would have had to research and then return to at a later date, leaving the client to explore services like this on their own which hasn’t always proven effective.

Benefit to referrer: I feel this has improved continuity and speedier access to online services for clients meaning that I have carried out activities as part of the assessment that may otherwise have needed to have taken place post assessment at an additional cost. Consultations can be completed in a location that is more comfortable or convenient for clients. For example, rather than sitting at a kitchen table which can be perceived as formal and where there can be disruption from family members coming and going. The client can be in a space where they feel comfortable, which improves confidentiality and facilitates open and honest conversation.

One of my current clients works in the agricultural industry and works long hours. For him virtual consultations mean less disruption to his working day; he can continue to work in remote locations and stop wherever he is to receive a call. This reduces the costs in terms of time and money to the client from attending and travelling to and from a location where the treatment session can take place. Convenience and ease of access to therapy services has been shown to improve engagement.

Benefit to referrer: This facilitates client engagement in the therapy process leading to positive therapeutic outcomes.

Not needing to factor in travel time has enabled me to increase my capacity and take on clients over a wider geographical area.

Benefit to referrer: This has reduced client wait times and reduced costs associated with treatment sessions, often freeing up funds for additional contact time or equipment. I can be more flexible to the needs of the client; offering a greater variety of appointment times or being able to reschedule treatment sessions at short notice.

In general client timeliness has improved; clients are always in reach of their devices, so time is not wasted due to them running late.

Benefit to referrer: I haven’t needed to bill for any missed or canceled therapy sessions which means that every penny spent on therapy is having a direct impact on the clients rehabilitation.

Of course remote consultations have their limitations; however I have experienced many positives of this way of interacting with clients and going forward I feel it is a useful method of therapy delviery that can work well for some clients, either as an alternative or in addition to face to face treatment sessions.

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