Results from a recent study suggest a significant reduction in the use of telehealth physical therapy visits for sports injuries from 2020 to 2021, with patients who had telehealth reporting lower patient satisfaction scores than those who had in-person visits.

The study was published recently in Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

In the cross-sectional study, Billy I. Kim, BA, and colleagues from Duke University analyzed 59,461 in-person and 2,016 telehealth physical therapy (PT) visits from March 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021. All patients were referred from an orthopedic sports medicine clinic.

Researchers found telehealth PT utilization decreased from 1,676 visits in 2020 to 340 visits in 2021, while in-person PT utilization increased from 22,586 visits in 2020 to 37,055 visits in 2021.

After review of the 1,012 completed patient surveys, Kim and colleagues found 75% of telehealth patients and 89.1% of in-person patients were likely to recommend their encounter to others, while 71.7% of telehealth patients and 88.6% of in-person patients rated their overall visit as the top-box score. Researchers also noted telehealth users were more often female, English-speaking, in the lowest quartile for median household income, had Medicare insurance carriers, were living out-of-county or living in nonurban areas.

“This study illustrates a decline in use of telehealth PT during the post-[COVID-19] pandemic era, consistent with reduced patient satisfaction when compared with in-person visits,” the researchers wrote in the study.

However, Kim and colleagues noted telehealth could still be “a useful option for populations with limited time or access to care and may serve a role in a hybrid care model.”

[Source: Healio Orthopedics]