In times like this, rather than cursing the night, Skye Grayson, an Escondido physical therapist, is “trying to be a light in a time of darkness.”
Dr. Grayson and his team at NCept Physical Therapy have been using Telehealth for about four weeks to treat patients who would in normal times travel to one of seven NCept clinics and deal directly with the staff of 23.
“A lot of people didn’t even know what Telehealth was prior to COVID-19. We have been getting the word out,” said Grayson. “Everyone is kind of living in a phase of fear. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of constructive things you can do if you are in pain.”
The Escondido NCept clinic has been in its current form since the 1980s. Grayson has been there since 2002.
In the times before the “New Normal” the Escondido clinic typically helped 40-60 patients a week. Ranging from young athletes to grandmas recovering from hip surgery, to weekend warriors and moms.
Using Telehealth, Grayson can see his patients and they can see him. “I had been skeptical in the beginning,” he told The Times-Advocate. It took about a week to get the system up and running. “You are using an audiovisual program like Zoom or Facetime, whatever patients have right now,” he said.
“The biggest difference is you’re not in the clinic,” he said. “I can’t touch you. You can reach near the screen. For a healthy majority basically you are finding out what their issues are and their limitations. Just like you would do if you were in the clinic. I’m always evaluating their goals and their resources.”
Telehealth does add an element missing from a visit to the clinic. “What’s actually been different is I’m in the patient’s house with him and I can adapt those resources to fit the situation. It’s been surprisingly good because you can really customize that atmosphere for what the patient’s needs are,” he said.
Although Telehealth has been around for a while, the industry has suddenly boomed in the last few weeks as the requirements for people to shelter-in-place has created a need.
“We had zero such patients four weeks ago, thirteen in our first week and thirty this week,” said Grayson. “That’s just us reaching out to our patients and the people who can’t come in due to the restrictions. Industry wide you are seeing a huge effort to do this. Medicare and other insurances are paying for these services for people who have those insurances. Which was not the case three or four weeks ago. You are seeing a huge shift in all the major cities.”
Grayson doesn’t see the industry ever going back to the old ways, at least, not entirely. “We are all going to be a lot smarter and wise about hygiene,” he said. He calls Telehealth, “a great resource for those who can’t travel. From my perspective, it’s here to say, but it won’t be as big [after things return to normal.] For some patients it’s here to stay, especially for travelers. I can see them using it for a long time.”
A good minimum to use such a program is high speed internet with a smart phone, tablet or computer. “I’ve personally have used them all,” said Dr. Grayson. “Some people are married to their phones. You can set your phone up on a chair and back up. What they are looking for is me to correct them. Most use a computer. I’ve had some use the tablet. One lady took me outside where she does her exercise. The phone works quite nicely for that.”
A majority of the online patients are at risk. “That’s who we focus on because those are the ones who don’t continue to come to the clinic. We’ve had some of the younger patients but most are in the senior population,” said Grayson. “There’s plenty of time to exercise. People are doing a hundred percent of what I ask them to do between each meeting.”
As Grayson talks to his patients —either coming into the clinic, or on Telehealth—he reflects that there are things you can do and not be trapped inside your home. “We are giving people hope. We want people to thrive and not be in fear. These are things you can do in your home and honor the quarantine. It’s going to be tough and we want to share hope. This is how we are holding a candle in the darkness and how we will come out the other side.”
NCept Physical Therapy
457 North Elm Street, Escondido, CA 92025
(760) 489-1969 (Ext. 315)
(760) 489-5226 (Fax)