Online physiotherapy service to be rolled out in Ireland

Catherine Gallagher

Videodoc has been providing online GP on a 24/7 basis to users in Ireland since 2014.

An online physiotherapy service is set to be made available in Ireland by the country’s leading online doctor service.

VideoDoc is an online healthcare service that operates on a web portal and mobile app. It has been providing online GP on a 24/7 basis to users in Ireland since 2014. They are now aiming to expand their services by providing physiotherapy.

The online physio service will be brought to users by specially trained physiotherapists via the VideoDoc platform, with a focus on musculoskeletal medicine, ergonomics and occupational health.

Ross Tomkins, Clinical Lead for the videoDoc physiotherapy service said: “Our service is appropriate for a wide variety of patients, ranging from simple back pain, to pre or post-surgical advice, and those with more complex longer-term issues.

“As there is no travel time or associated cost involved in using a remote based service, this enables expert advice to be within easy reach for a wide patient demographic,” said Tomkins.

In 2016, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that the predominant types work-related illness reported by workers were musculoskeletal disorders which include issues relating to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels etc. Stress, anxiety and depression were also reported.

Michelle McGinty is a qualified physiotherapist at MiPhysio in Newport, Co. Mayo. She says that face-to-face interaction with patients an important element of treatment.

“I feel people need that hands-on treatment to help alleviate their pain. I also use dry needling and this obviously has to be done in person. It enables me first and foremost to begin to develop a rapport and trust.

“If I were to do a Skype type physio session the subjective (what the patient tells us) could still be thorough and movement testing could be completed but palpation of the joint or muscles and special testing would not be able to be completed. The palpation and testing allows me to educate the patient with regards their particular injury and also prescribe their home program,” said McGinty.

Of the 10 people who spoke to The College View who have experience with receiving physiotherapy, opinion was split 50/50 as to whether they thought an online service was a viable option. However, most who agreed that it is added that cannot replace hands-on assessment.

“My first reaction is being vary because there’s so many varying physio plans and approaches to each condition,” said disability activist and Trinity College student Róisín Hackett.

She added, “I think it sounds great for textbook physio, such as hip replacements, surgery recovery, breaks and sprains. This would be revolutionary and it would mean more (hands-on) physio slots could go to disabled people and for more complex cases.”

Alannah Murray is an award-winning student filmmaker and blogger. In January of this year, she gave a Tedx talk at Dublin Institute of Technology about her experience with life as a wheelchair user.

“I have regularly attended physiotherapy over the years both to keep me in shape and for rehabilitation purposes. This sounds like an absolutely wonderful initiative. Particularly for students who are obviously under serious pressure financially with the economic climate; disabled students even more so. Whether class is keeping them in, whether they can’t afford to visit a physio or whatever reason they may have,” Murray said.

Catherine Gallagher

Image Credit: Mikey Walsh