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Ascenti virtual physiotherapy services
02.06.20|Posted by Ascenti Team

How virtual physiotherapy can boost employee wellbeing and productivity

Ascenti’s Virtual Physiotherapy Service Lead, Jamie Duke, talks about the future of digitally-enabled musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy and the important role that it will play in shaping employee wellbeing services of the future.

Research shows us time and time again that when people receive early physiotherapy intervention they recover faster and benefit from better long term results. We also know that early physiotherapy intervention is an essential component of any effective occupational health service enabling employees to maintain good health and thrive at work. 

For what we call acute conditions such as the sudden onset of neck or back pain, or a soft-tissue injury like a sprain, it’s especially beneficial for people to speak to a physiotherapist about how to manage their condition properly from the start. This aids faster recovery, protects them from doing further damage and prevents the issue from becoming a bigger problem in the future.

Through our employee wellbeing and occupational health services, we often see patients who have been struggling with a relatively minor complaint for many months, which over time has become a more complex or chronic condition. 

At this stage people are often adapting how they move in order to complete everyday tasks and struggling with persistent pain or discomfort. This can come with a knock on effect to their mental wellbeing, which can delay recovery and turn into a difficult cycle for them to move forward from. 

The cost of employee absenteeism to businesses is well documented, but the cost of so-called ‘presenteeism’, which is when employees are present in work but unable to perform to the best of their abilities, has more than tripled since 2010, costing the UK economy around £15.1 billion annually which is twice the cost of absenteeism (Credit: CIPD 2019). On average, presenteeism costs businesses £605 per person each year with 27 days of productive time lost per employee (Hub - High Speed Training, 2017).

From an employee wellbeing perspective, early physiotherapy intervention makes perfect sense, but in reality people don’t always access treatment as soon as they should do and we see the same pattern across all areas of physiotherapy we work in, not just occupational health. 

Committing to a face-to-face in clinic physiotherapy appointment, often during day time working hours, can act as a barrier for people and puts many off seeking treatment or occupational health support until their issue becomes chronic or debilitating. It can also be hard for patients in extreme pain or with mobility issues to travel to physiotherapy treatment once they get to this point. 

In my view this is one of the biggest downfalls of physiotherapy as we know it, but Ascenti’s PhysioNow service, which includes virtual physio and digital rehabilitation tools, is revolutionising employee wellbeing and occupational health – making early intervention a reality with accessible, smart and effective digitally-enabled physiotherapy and musculoskeletal (MSK) support services. 

In 2016 Health and Safety News documented a 28% increase in productivity at a dairy producer following the introduction of a virtual musculoskeletal MSK physiotherapy service. That equates to an extra 1.4 days of work per person per week. 

How does Ascenti’s virtual physiotherapy service for employees work?

Ascenti’s digital occupational health service includes virtual consultations, but this is just one part of our fully integrated digital health solution for employees. Our bespoke patient workflow platform sits at the heart of our operations and is fully integrated with our virtual physiotherapy capabilities and patient support app. This means that we are able to deliver a seamless journey and experience to both our occupational health clients and their employees.

When an employee uses the Ascenti PhysioNow occupational health service, they will benefit from rapid access to physiotherapy through an online self-referral tool that sits on their company intranet or a similar space, without the need for a GP consultation or any additional discussions with their employer. This referral pathway can vary from business to business, because our service model and flexible IT systems can be tailored to the individual needs of each company. 

The next step for the employee is what we call digital triage which is an online questionnaire tool designed to check symptoms and advise on the best course of treatment, for example: seek emergency care, book a virtual physiotherapy appointment or access self-management information. This helps to filter out any users who may have a serious pathology that requires urgent medical attention, whilst enabling us to check whether virtual treatment is right for the individual.

If virtual physiotherapy is determined as the right course of treatment, the employee will be taken to an online booking page and choose a convenient time slot. Next they will be sent appointment confirmation details by email or text, with advice about how to prepare for the video call and details about how to set-up their account on our PhysioNow app

Is virtual physiotherapy safe for employees?

The virtual physiotherapy consultation itself is almost identical to a first time face-to-face physiotherapy appointment with us in clinic. It is a fully qualified and professionally trained Ascenti physiotherapist running through the same set of assessment questions that they would ask in a face-to-face consultation and upholds the same high levels of governance and quality as all of our services. 

The physiotherapist will provide the employee with advice about how to treat and manage their condition, as well as guidance about how to use the PhysioNow patient app. This is an important part of our digital service because the physiotherapist will use the PhysioNow app to prescribe a personalised exercise and treatment plan, and will track the employee’s progress and compliance with the rehabilitation programme through the app.

What happens if employees have questions or concerns after their appointment?

If the employee has any further questions or concerns about their treatment plan then they can easily flag these through the PhysioNow app and will benefit from in-app notifications and reminders about completing exercises. 

What are the benefits of using our virtual physio services?

Employees who use our PhysioNow app report higher improvement scores and better outcomes at the end of their treatment than patients who don’t use the service, with 97% of users saying that they would recommend the app to friends and family. 

Our comprehensive end-to-end digital occupational health service brings many more benefits to both businesses and employees than traditional occupational health MSK physio services. There are huge efficiencies when it comes to time and money, improved convenience for employees, increased levels of productivity, lower levels of days lost to sickness and much richer reporting data is available, helping employers to see a clear picture of how the service is working. 

Beyond the many quantitative benefits, investing in a modern digitally-enabled physio service for employees sends a powerful message that you are forward thinking when it comes to workplace wellbeing. 

Our digital services empower people to proactively take control of their health, helping businesses to step forward into a new era of employee wellbeing which is about creating health positive cultures that enable people to thrive – a core driver of success for any great business, big or small. 

Learn more about Ascenti’s physiotherapy and occupational health services or contact us to learn more about how we can help you to unlock the potential of your workforce.