MDI Grant funds Allied telehealth developments from MSHS Physios

A physiotherapist is pictured delivering a telehealth consultation via a computerCongratulations to Dr Belinda Lawford, Professor Kim Bennall, Professor Rana Hinman and Professor Alicia Spittle who were awarded an MDI Grant for $20,000 to lead a survey the perceived acceptability and safety of telehealth services amongst those with a disability. With many allied healthcare services rapidly transitioning to telehealth delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that consumer experiences using telehealth services are investigated, including the perceived barriers and facilitators to the delivery of care via telephone and via video over the internet.

Belinda, Kim and Rana also worked on two other independently funded surveys investigating the use of telehealth in allied healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In collaboration with the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Allied Health Professions Australia, and the National Disability Insurance Agency, they developed patient and clinician surveys to investigate the use of, and attitudes towards, telehealth in allied healthcare throughout Australia.

A physiotherapist is pictured delivering a telehealth consultation via a computerWith the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of social distancing rules, many healthcare services have transitioned to the delivery of care remotely via telehealth. There is emerging evidence to support the safety and efficacy of telehealth delivery in allied healthcare services, including physiotherapy, dietetics, audiology and speech pathology, psychology, and occupational therapy. In addition, there is also some evidence that consumers and providers of care have positive attitudes towards, and experiences with, telehealth models of service delivery. However, before COVID-19, telehealth was not commonly used in allied healthcare services throughout Australia, and thus its effectiveness, safety, and acceptability outside of the research setting is unclear.

The results from this study will contribute towards better understanding of the perceptions and experiences patients have towards telehealth, identify factors that may facilitate or impede patients’ intentions to use these services, and inform the development and implementation of effective telehealth services. Findings will also potentially inform decision making around future funding of telehealth services by allied healthcare providers once the COVID-19 pandemic has ended