The practitioner’s pain point: How can we encourage client adherence to home exercise programs?
With client adherence to home exercise programs as low as 30% (Essery et al., 2017), how can exercise professionals and practitioners encourage clients to actually do their exercises?
The answer to this may lie in telehealth exercise prescription platforms developed or refined during the COVID-19 period. Traditionally, telehealth has been seen as a tool for consultations with remotely based clients. However, there are currently a variety of telehealth platforms that provide valuable features which have the potential to improve client adherence, for example platforms with the ability to assign and monitor exercises and send reminder prompts/notifications.
Telehealth platforms could bridge the gap in-between physical consultations.
It is easy to think of telehealth as a yes or no question; “Yes, I’m using telehealth video calls for my remote clients” or “No, I’m not using telehealth because I can see my client physically in-person”. In reality, there are a broad range of online platforms which provide an opportunity to effectively monitor client exercise adherence in-between physical consultations.
Through many telehealth exercise prescription platforms, exercise professionals can:
- Customise and administer exercise programs.
- Modify programs without an in-person consult.
- Allow clients to see their progress through tracking of adherence or self-reported symptoms.
- Provide education through user-friendly video instructions.
How can telehealth help exercise professionals connect with patients between real-time consultations?
At the end of a consultation, an exercise professional is often left to wonder if their client will complete their exercises or do their exercises correctly.
Many telehealth platforms allow exercise professionals to view clients doing their exercises that are recorded by the clients themselves. In this way, exercise professionals can quickly log into the telehealth platform and modify the exercise programs and provide feedback for clients. Moreover, telehealth programs such as the free TeleHab Exercise Prescription App incorporate advanced exercise-scheduling capabilities, including personalised, but semi-automated notifications/reminders to encourage clients to complete their programs, and an in-built ability for clients to report subjective outcomes for their exercises, such as pain and effort.
How is it best to integrate telehealth for both you and your clients?
If you’re just starting on your technology journey, it’s important to find what works for your clinic and your clients. Breaking down some of the common technology barriers through training can make a huge difference. While you do this, we urge you to consider how you can use technology to improve client care beyond the convenience of a telehealth appointment alone. Finding low-cost options, such as the free TeleHab platform, also allows practitioners to integrate technology without any financial risk.
With ever-increasing access to consumer-grade technology; reduced cost and increased speed of data; combined with unprecedented ability to reimburse telehealth consults (Cottrell & Russell 2020), the time has never been better to explore a sustainable, tech-integrated model that can support practitioners to improve their pain point of improving client adherence to home exercise programs. There are a great range of free or low-cost telehealth platforms that could assist you and your clients to complete their home exercise programs – it’s just a matter of getting started…
Don’t know where to start? Try TeleHab for free today with no lock-in contracts.
From its best-in-class interface, to the ability to have your clients seamlessly record and upload videos of their exercises for extra visibility, TeleHab brings down the barriers to adopting exercise prescription technology in your practice.
Cottrell, M. & Russell, T., (2020). Telehealth for musculoskeletal physiotherapy. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 48, 102-193.
Essery, R., Geraghty, A. W., Kirby, S., Yardley, L. (2017). Predictors of adherence to home-based physical therapies: a systematic review. Disabil Rehabil, 39(6), 519-534. DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2016.1153160. Epub 2016 Apr 21. PMID: 27097761.