Imagine getting a sore shoulder from work you had done hanging drywall one weekend. There's a week wait to see the MD and a three-day wait until you can see a PT. The pharmacy down the road has a kiosk you can access and speak with a PT via monitor and a PTA on site who can take you through an exercise program after speaking with the therapist.
The idea of tele-health is not new but the way it can be delivered may change. Currently the kiosk is being developed and can accommodate a pulse oximeter, otoscope, dermascope and blood-pressure cuff, among other devices. There are attendants who will assist for blood-glucose testing and placing a stethoscope if needed. There's no waiting in a long line at the emergency room or waiting for days or weeks to see a health provider. Psychiatrists and dermatologists are just a few of the health providers who may begin using this type of tele-health in the near future.
Would it work for the PT world? Possibly. If a PTA is under the direction of the PT and the telephone is an acceptable form of supervision, why isn't tele-health where a PT can actually see the patient and watch him move through a range of movements? The PT could direct the PTA to palpate, manual muscle-test and perform ROM testing on the patient while watching him move through the activity.
After this, the PT can direct the PTA and patient on which exercises to avoid and which to do. Then the PTA can instruct the patient on proper form and body mechanics while going through the exercises. This will not replace an office visit to a clinic where a more comprehensive eval can be performed and where more equipment is available for a patient's needs. This is where the skill and knowledge of the PT will be most useful, to determine whether the patient can be seen on site or whether the patient should seek further care in a clinic.
I'm not sure why therapists are resistant to this type of care. It's already happening and we may be left behind when this technology is implemented as the new standard of care. If anything, therapists should get behind it and improve the functionality of the kiosk, deciding what equipment will be needed (TENS unit and ultrasound) to make it work to their advantage.